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: 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 »

Lowering blood pressure: How low should you go?

High blood pressure wreaks havoc in the circulatory system. It is a key contributor to heart attack and stroke. However, blood pressure that is too low can lead to problems such as blurry vision, dizziness, confusion, and fainting, which can diminish quality of life, especially in older people. In recognition of the trade-off between lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall well-being, experts from three major heart groups have issued an updated set of blood pressure guidelines that call for a flexible approach in designing medication regimens for treating hypertension. (Locked) 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 »

Distracting music may trip up older memories

A study found that listening to distracting instrumental music might impair the ability to memorize pairs of names and faces in older people. In younger study participants, the music had no effect on memory recall for this task. (Locked) More »