We’re Living Longer Than Our Parents

by Lois Etienne on March 16, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Washington-Senior-Woman-GardeningPeople in developed nations are living in good health as much as a decade longer than their parents did.  “We’re living longer because people are reaching old age in better health,” said demographer James Vaupel, author of a very interesting review article appearing in the March 25 edition of Nature.

“But once it starts, the process of aging itself including dementia and heart disease is still happening at pretty much the same rate.  Deterioration, instead of being stretched out, is being postponed.”

The better health in older age stems from public health efforts to improve living conditions and prevent disease, and from improved medical interventions, said Vaupel, who heads Duke University’s Center on the Demography of Aging and holds academic appointments at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, and the institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Demark.

Over the past 170 years, in the countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span has grown at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about 6 hours per day.  The chance of death goes up with age until the most advanced ages.  The good news is that after age 110, the chance of death does not increase any more.  The bad news is that it holds steady at 50 percent per year at that point, Vaupel said.

This trend, while very encouraging, could have many ramifications on the health care, social services and economic structures of our country.  It could also explain the rapid growth in services aimed at helping older adults.

At-home senior care is one of those.  Founded in 1994, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is now the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 875 independently owned and operated franchises in 15 countries and 16 markets, spanning four continents.  The local office is part of this network.

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