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

Ask the doctor: Why am I getting shorter?

After age 40, people lose a little less than half an inch in height with each decade. One can try to avoid losing height by eating foods with calcium, getting enough vitamin D, and staying physically active. (Locked) More »

Should you take probiotics?

Probiotics can be helpful in some cases, but it’s unclear whether they are safe for all older adults. Preliminary information shows that some types of probiotics are safe for healthy older people, but it’s not known yet if probiotics prevent infections in the elderly. If someone has a health problem, especially an immune system weakened by illness or medication, that person could get sick from probiotics. People should not begin taking probiotics without talking to a doctor or pharmacist first. . More »

The dollars and sense of long-term care

Most people will need some type of long-term care, but many people don’t plan for it. That pushes off decisions to family members, who might not make the decisions a person would have wanted. Types of long-term care include private-duty care at home, adult day care centers, assisted living, and nursing homes. It helps to work with legal and financial planners to determine now what type of long-term care will be wanted and how to pay for it. More »

Ask the doctor: Safe driving and aging

Safe driving requires a variety of mental and physical skills. A doctor can assess some of the skills needed to drive safely, and some medical centers offer safe driving evaluations. (Locked) More »

How you can drive safely at night

Age-related changes in vision aren’t great enough to keep older people from driving at night. Having regular eye exams and taking measures to reduce glare are important. It’s also important to stay off the road at sunrise and sunset. (Locked) More »

Retirement stress: Taking it too easy can be bad for you, too

Retirement brings many changes, including a less structured day and an altered home life. It takes time and effort to make the transition successfully. Being engaged mentally and socially is also key to well-being in retirement. Doing too much or doing too little can lead to anxiety, depression, and other health issues. Men need activities that structure their time and are meaningful to them. Taking hobbies and interests to a more challenging level, providing service to others as a community volunteer, and learning new skills can all fuel a man’s mental and social engagement. (Locked) More »

Why you should thank your aging brain

As we age, the brain compensates for slower processing by using more of its capacity for tasks that require reasoning and judgment, and older people perform better at these tasks. REST, a protein that repairs brain cell damage, has been identified in older people. More »

Stay a step ahead of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among older adults, but the infections are often overdiagnosed and overtreated. In older adults, UTI symptoms include frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate, a burning feeling that occurs with urination, and confusion. Diagnosing a UTI requires testing a urine sample to look for bacteria and white blood cells. If positive, it’s necessary to grow the bacteria in a lab to see which type are causing infection. But even if a person has bacteria and white cells in the urine, it’s not a UTI unless symptoms are also present.  More »