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

Nutrition and Aging

Numerous products from lotions and creams to dietary supplements are promoted as ways to prevent or slow down the aging process. Yet there is no hard scientific evidence that any of these items are effective. Gerontologists (experts in aging) advocate instead that people focus on staying healthy and well so they can enjoy their favorite activities into middle age and beyond. Eating a balanced diet, which supplies all the necessary nutrients for health, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are the key factors that influence your nutritional health as you age. As we get older, our resting metabolic rate declines. This can lead to unwanted weight gain, which can increase your risk for certain chronic diseases. This decrease in metabolic rate is related to the loss of lean body mass as we age. To help lessen this effect: (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Blurry vision and headache

In people over the age of 60, temporary blurred vision can be sign of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke. If the blurred vision is accompanied by a headache, it could indicate a migraine, especially in people younger than 60. More »

Why I'm not prescribing statins for all my patients

The 2013 ACC/AHA guideline defines everyone over 75 as a candidate for statin therapy. Because the risks and benefits of statin use are largely unknown for people this age, it’s important to review them carefully with your doctor. More »

Tips to avoid caregiver stress

People who provide in-home, long-term care for older adult family members with a chronic illness are often overwhelmed by it. The weight of the job may result in a type of stress known as caregiver burden. This can manifest in many ways, including physical ailments, mental illness, and social isolation. To avoid caregiver burden, one can ask for help, either from a family member or a service; take care of yourself physically; pay attention to emotional health; reduce stress; and maintain social connections. (Locked) More »