Aging

Children born today in the United States can expect to live nearly 78 years. That life expectancy is a great leap forward from 1900, when the average newborn couldn’t expect to reach age 50. Similar increases have been seen in in developed nations all around the world. In the 20th century, life expectancy increased more than it had in any century since the beginning of human civilization.

Life expectancy at various ages in teh United States

And the longer you live, the longer you can expect to live. Average life expectancy for a newborn American is 78 years, while it is 84 years for a 65-year-old and 87 years for a 75-year old.

But extending the lifespan has also increased the burden of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, and other conditions that tend to affect older individuals. Most of these diseases, though, aren't inevitable consequences of aging. Instead, many are preventable.

Solid research from long-term studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and others have shown that the combination of not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check can prevent three-quarters or more of these chronic conditions.

Aging Articles

Ask the doctor: Safe driving and aging

Safe driving requires a variety of mental and physical skills. A doctor can assess some of the skills needed to drive safely, and some medical centers offer safe driving evaluations. (Locked) More »

Feeling young at heart may help you live longer

Feeling younger psychologically might lead to better health. When people feel younger psychologically, they’re more likely to pursue physical exercise, even if it’s challenging. If people feel young, they may have more of a futuristic orientation that leads them to eat with future health in mind. People who report feeling older than they are may be suffering from depression, which, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease. They may also simply have an accurate assessment of their state of health. (Locked) More »

How you can drive safely at night

Age-related changes in vision aren’t great enough to keep older people from driving at night. Having regular eye exams and taking measures to reduce glare are important. It’s also important to stay off the road at sunrise and sunset. (Locked) More »

Retirement stress: Taking it too easy can be bad for you, too

Retirement brings many changes, including a less structured day and an altered home life. It takes time and effort to make the transition successfully. Being engaged mentally and socially is also key to well-being in retirement. Doing too much or doing too little can lead to anxiety, depression, and other health issues. Men need activities that structure their time and are meaningful to them. Taking hobbies and interests to a more challenging level, providing service to others as a community volunteer, and learning new skills can all fuel a man’s mental and social engagement. (Locked) More »

Doctors often mum about sex after a heart attack

Most doctors don’t offer counseling about resuming sexual activity after a heart attack, especially to people who are older or female. When doctors do give advice, it often includes restrictions that are not supported by evidence.  (Locked) More »

Good news about early-stage breast cancer for older women

Older women have many options for breast cancer screening and treatment. They should make these decisions based on their health, life expectancy, and personal preferences. They can expect to do as well as younger women with the same type of breast cancer. (Locked) More »