Are American Seniors Living Longer and Better?

Are American Seniors Living Longer and Better?

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These days, Americans are living longer than ever before thanks to advances in pharmacology and senior healthcare, but this increase in longevity doesn't mean people are lingering in ill-health.

Today, the average American senior can look forward to enjoying a longer, healthier retirement.


Quality-Adjusted Life Expectancy

A report published this year by the American Journal of Public Health chronicled the work of a team of Massachusetts researchers who examined data from several national health surveys completed between 1987 and 2008 in an effort to chart and quantify quality of life.

The researchers devised a measurement they called Quality-Adjusted Life Expectancy (QALE), which plugged in statistics for individuals' average life expectancy, impairments, symptoms, smoking and body mass index, which produced a number the team believes is indicative of the number of healthy years a person might expect to live.

The study looked at data gathered about all age groups, including older adults.

In the 20 years analyzed, the Massachusetts team found that QALE had increased by nearly 14% (approximately 1.7 years) for the average 65-year-old—an amazing statistic considering young adults saw only a 6% increase (2.5 years).

While the study does, as the researchers pointed out, indicate that some of the major health disparities in the nation are starting to even out, seniors must still be vigilant about their health

Obesity remains a significant problem for the American populace.

Of the measured factors limiting the increases in quality of life, obesity is a primary culprit.

The number of Americans classified as obese increased by 12% over all the age and ethnic subgroups combined, but obesity is a particularly serious problem in senior healthcare where it has been solidly linked to increased risk for a bevy of life-threatening illnesses, including:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Chronic pain and reduced mobility associated with arthritis

The US Centers for Disease Control estimated that obese people spent 42% more on healthcare than healthy weight individuals in 2006.

Obesity has also been linked to reduced strength and endurance in older people, so if you’re looking for the best way to improve your golden years, start looking for ways that you can get back to a healthy senior living.

You need to make some drastic changes in your routine to stay healthy.

This can seem hard if you live alone, or if you already suffer from reduced mobility, but it doesn't have to be difficult.

If you still smoke, stop now.

It’s clear that smoking is bad for your health, and even a lifelong smoker can benefit from smoking cessation. Men who quit smoking at age 65 experience an average life expectancy increase of up to two years, and women who quit at 65 may live between 2.7 and 3.4 years longer than a senior who does not stop smoking.

Exercise regularly.

Physical activity—even light to moderate workouts—can reduce your susceptibility to a number of chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even dementia. If you have difficulty getting around, enrolling in a workout program designed for seniors with reduced mobility, such as pool-based exercise, or a light physical therapy course, could help.

Set up a wellness plan with your primary care doctor and stay in regular contact.

Staying in regular contact with a doctor who specializes in senior healthcare and closely follows your medical history can help detect new onset changes in your chronic symptoms and allow your doctor to adapt your care plan to meet new challenges.

You may be able to increase your longevity and findyourself with some additional quality years!

If you're looking for a place to enjoy your retirement, see what Cincinnati has to offer.


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Bryan Reynolds
December 07, 2013
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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