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

Top 4 reasons why you're not sleeping through the night

There are many potential contributors to disrupted sleep in older age. Age can be a factor, but shouldn’t be assumed as the cause. Lifestyle habits often lead to interrupted sleep. Examples include drinking alcohol within four hours of bedtime, napping too much during the day, and consuming too much caffeine. Medication side effects can sometimes cause nighttime waking. So can underlying conditions, such as anxiety, chronic pain, or sleep apnea. Changing one’s lifestyle and treating an underlying condition can help improve sleep, as can practicing good sleep hygiene. More »

Deep-vein blood clots: What you need to know

A blood clot that forms in a vein, known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), is the third most common cause of cardiovascular death. Most of these fatalities occur when a clot travels from the leg to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. VTE occurs in an estimated one in 1,000 people in the United States every year. Factors that increase a person’s risk of heart disease, such as age, smoking, and being overweight or obese, also raise the risk of VTE. Other contributing factors include recent surgery, hospitalization, injury to a vein, and decreased blood flow, usually caused by immobility. (Locked) More »

Put your best foot forward

Most people experience foot pain at some time during their lives, and the pain often becomes persistent. Years of daily wear and tear, a genetic predisposition to foot problems and injuries can lead to three common conditions: arch collapse (or flat feet), arthritis, or stress fractures. (Locked) More »

Stay active, even with stiff ankles

Ankles typically stiffen over time for one reason or another, such as osteoarthritis, ankle impingement, old injuries, inflammatory disease, tendinitis, or foot problems such as flat feet. Treatment depends on the cause of ankle stiffness. Treating underlying conditions may ease symptoms. Icing and rest can also help tendinitis or inflammation. In cases of misalignment, bone spurs, or significant joint arthritis, surgery may be the best option. Often, however, ankle stiffness can be treated simply with physical therapy, weight control, daily exercise, and stretching. (Locked) More »

A noisy problem

Age-related hearing loss is common among older adults and can make people more sensitive to sounds that used to be well tolerated, such as noise from crowds and traffic, which in turn increases stress levels, leads to greater anxiety, and reduces overall quality of life. Reducing your exposure to specific sounds that might trigger negative reactions and wearing filtered earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can offer protection. (Locked) More »

Lessons about brain health from a landmark heart study

The Framingham Heart Study—the longest running and best-known study of the causes of heart disease—has also revealed important clues about brain disorders, including stroke, cognitive decline, and dementia. In addition to linking high blood pressure with a higher risk of stroke, the study has confirmed that atrial fibrillation and an enlarged left ventricle contribute to stroke risk. The multigenerational study has also affirmed the importance of exercise and social connections for staving off cognitive decline. More »