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

Alzheimer’s wake-up call

Research has shown an association between poor sleep and a higher risk of accumulating beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain sweeps out excess amyloid proteins during slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep phase where memories are consolidated. It is still not clear if improving poor sleep or practicing good sleeping habits can protect against Alzheimer’s. Until more is known, experts suggest paying attention to sleep problems, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and nocturia (which causes people to wake up to use the bathroom). More »

Is it normal to lose my sense of smell as I age?

Some loss of the sensitivity to smells is normal as people get older, but there may be another explanation. The most common causes of loss of smell are nasal problems, which can be detected by a routine examination. (Locked) More »

Putting off retirement may benefit your brain, health, and longevity

A later retirement may not only benefit your bank account but can pay dividends when it comes to your health. Research increasingly shows that a later retirement may actually improve your brain health and could extend your life. But it’s important to mention that not all research shows this benefit and some jobs, including those that are stressful or too physically demanding, may actually have the reverse effect. More »

Ways to stay sharp behind the wheel

Many aspects of aging affect the ability to drive, such as poor vision, hearing impairment, loss of muscle mass, and changes in thinking skills. Addressing underlying health conditions and getting an evaluation from a driver assessment program can help older adults improve weaknesses in driving. Other tips to stay safer behind the wheel include cutting down on driving distractions, such as cellphones, loud music, or chatter; limiting exposure to busy traffic, and avoiding driving in bad weather. (Locked) More »

Keep on driving

An older man’s health tends to go downhill after he loses the ability to drive. Driving keeps men more independent and increases their ability to socialize, visit the doctor, or go exercise. The best ways to ensure men stay behind the wheel is to sharpen certain physical and cognitive skills, as well as reviewing other aspects that affect driving ability, such as medication side effects and car accessories. (Locked) More »