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 in the family

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease raises concerns for multiple people in a family. For the person’s children and siblings, the diagnosis means they are at slightly increased risk of developing the condition. However, genetic testing for Alzheimer’s risk genes is not generally helpful.  More »

Is it a health problem, or is it just aging?

It's important for people not to assume that physical changes in older years are simply occurring because of age. Some conditions, such as vision or hearing impairment, may indicate a more serious underlying health problem. (Locked) More »

Does hearing loss boost death risk?

It appears that hearing impairment is associated with a 21% increased risk of death, and moderate-to-severe hearing impairment is associated with a 39% increased risk of death, compared with people who don't have hearing loss. More »

Keep your shoulders strong to stay independent

In older age, the shoulders become vulnerable to health problems and pain that may curtail activity. Fortunately, most older adults can reduce pain and improve shoulder strength without surgery. Therapy typically focuses on three keys to restoring shoulder health: improving posture, strengthening the muscles that support the shoulder, and stretching. Posture exercises aim to reverse forward-shoulder positions. Strengthening focuses on the rotator cuff muscles and the shoulder blade muscles. The muscles that must be stretched for shoulder health are in the front of the body and on top of the shoulders. (Locked) More »

Tools to make your life easier

Many tools can assist people with everyday activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, cooking, and taking medications. Helpful eating tools including weighted or curved eating utensils and skid-control bowls with high sides and rubber bottoms. Helpful cooking tools include jar openers and one-handed cutting boards. A long-handled tool with pinchers at the end allows users to grab something that’s out of reach. Long-handled and curved versions of hairbrushes and combs, toenail clippers, and shoehorns are helpful for personal grooming. And pillboxes, journals, and automatic pill dispensers help keep users on their medication regimens. (Locked) More »

Why you fall-and what you can do about it

Exercise to develop strong, powerful core muscles is the best way to prevent falls. Pain control, foot and vision care, choosing medications that don’t interfere with balance, and removing hazards in the home are also important. (Locked) More »

How to ease the transition when you move to assisted living

Making the move to an assisted living facility may bring challenges, and adapting may take time. Suggestions to ease the transition include seeking emotional support through therapy or group support, bringing familiar belongings, and getting to know other people in the assisted living facility. An easy way to meet others is to take part in the many activities that are usually offered, such as painting or outings to museums and concerts. Taking part can help people feel purposeful and engaged. (Locked) More »