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

A stronger heart may help keep your brain young

People with higher levels of cardiovascular fitness may do better on tests that measure memory, motor skills, and executive function (mental skills to manage time, plan and organize, and recall details) than people who aren’t as fit. Exercise delivers extra oxygen to the brain and also seems to stimulate the growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain. Experts believe that meeting the federal physical activity guidelines may help keep a person’s brain young, or at least slow down the normal decline in age-related thinking skills. (Locked) More »

Lightheaded? Top 5 reasons you might feel woozy

Lightheadedness is a feeling of wooziness or faintness. It is commonly caused by dehydration, drug side effects, blood pressure drops, low blood sugar, heart disease, or stroke. It may help to have a drink of water or orange juice and then lie down. If symptoms are brief, one should report them to a doctor, because lightheadedness may recur due to an undiagnosed underlying problem. Symptoms that last more than 15 minutes call for emergency medical help. Lightheadedness is not the same as dizziness, which refers to feeling like the surroundings are spinning. More »

Making decisions about your future medical care

Legal documentation that protects a person’s future medical treatment choices is generally known as an advance directive. That umbrella term covers several documents. A living will spells out treatment preferences if a person is unable to make treatment decisions. A health care proxy form names the person who’ll make health care decisions if a person lacks the capacity to make them. A POLST (physician orders for life-sustaining treatment) turns a person’s health care preferences into a medical order that must be followed by doctors, hospital staffers, and paramedics immediately, not after legal interpretation.    (Locked) More »

Men's hearts age differently from women's

Men's and women's hearts age differently, even though heart disease treatment for both sexes is the same, says a new study. Researchers suggest that future treatment for men may need to be different. More »

Too old for a stent?

People in their 80s who have angina may be candidates for an angioplasty plus a stent, especially if they have symptoms despite taking the maximum doses of medications for their heart problem. (Locked) More »

Steps to stay independent when you live alone

Older adults who live alone should consider using services and strategies that will help them stay independent longer. To stay safe, older adults should consider wearing a device that can contact 911 at the touch of a button, and keeping an emergency kit with food and medications on hand. They must make an effort to maintain social connections, even if it’s just visiting with a neighbor briefly. It’s also helpful to take advantage of services that deliver groceries, run errands, and clean homes. More »