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

Technology and your health: A quick-start guide

Electronic devices such as computers and smartphones are now common tools used in health care. Doctors use them to access electronic medical records and health apps. The information can be shared with patients to help them understand their treatment. Doctors also use them to send information to other physicians and to communicate with patients. Patients and their families can use electronic devices to gain access to their health records, to communicate with their doctor, and to ask for prescription refills. (Locked) More »

Volunteering can be good for both mind and body

Volunteering has many benefits. The social interaction makes people feel connected to others, which staves off loneliness and depression. Volunteering also makes people feel effective, because they’re making a difference in others’ lives. In addition, volunteering boosts self-esteem, and it can lift mood. Volunteering is also associated with healthy outcomes, such as lower blood pressure, increased well-being, and a reduction in the risk of dying. It’s unclear exactly how much time one must volunteer to boost health. Studies have noted benefits from 100 to 200 hours per year.   (Locked) More »

Living wills become more common

A study found that the number of older adults with advance directives or "living wills" has increased sharply but this didn't appear to make it less likely for people to die in the hospital. (Locked) More »

5 steps to adapt your home as you age

Adapting a home to suit an older person’s needs can help him live there longer. This can be done with renovations, such hiring a contractor to widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, or lowering countertops and cabinets in the kitchen. It can also be done with simple fixes, such as switching round doorknobs to lever door handles that require only a push downward; rearranging a pantry so that food and cooking utensils are on lower shelves; or adding non-slip treads to bathroom floors and shower stalls. More »

Mind your own health after the death of a partner

It appears that the risk of heart attack or stroke is increased in the first 30 days after a partner’s death, possibly due to short-term changes in blood pressure, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and changes in heart rate. (Locked) More »

Choosing hospice

End-of-life treatment, commonly known as hospice care, is a little-known area of medical treatment that can aid patients and families during a difficult time. More »