There are not only many more people living longer but also innovations that will allow us to further extend life expectancy.
As of 2013, U.S. life expectancy sits at 76.4 years for males and 81.2 years for females.
We are living better, taking better care of ourselves, staying engaged with the world around us, and taking advantage of the advances that have improved our health.
Here are a few of the medical breakthroughs projected to be available soon that can further improve our longevity and help seniors age more healthfully.
Upcoming Medical Innovations for Longevity
The medicine and healthcare fields have seen many lifesaving and life extending advancements since the current centenarians were born.
This group has benefited from polio vaccines, antibiotics, heart surgery, cholesterol lowering medications, improved treatment and prevention of childhood diseases, improved practices of maternal health and birthing, vaccinations for many diseases, and standards of care improvements, including hand washing and sterilization of medical equipment.
All of these practices have improved lives and increased life expectancy.
These are some of the latest innovations that could continue to aid our longevity:
- Genetic testing to target treatment, diet, medications and other health indicators specifically to each individual. Using this genetic testing to modify DNA to cut out harmful genes that lead to disease, a modified DNA strand could act as an immune fighting cell to fight the disease.
- Busting brain clots during a stroke with the use of a wire with a mesh-like tip that grabs the clot from the artery. While clot busting drugs can help some, this device could help many more.
- Robotic limbs for amputees that are controlled by implants in the brain at the location that controls the intention to move not just the movement itself. This improvement will let the person guide the new limb more fluidly.
- Immunotherapy cancer vaccines to fight cancer without harming healthy cells.
- Wearable sensors that don’t just monitor steps but also help monitor chronic disease conditions to better control them. They will take the form of special clothing and stick on sensors in addition to the current fitness bands.
- Large scale, speedy vaccines in the face of widespread epidemics similar to Ebola. Accelerated processes to create and distribute vaccines to protect the public health. In addition, unraveling the superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics and identifying them in an individual quicker for better treatment.
These and many other innovations utilizing the latest technology and collaboration across the globe among researchers and organizations will lead to improved care for all of us.
Causes of Death After Age 100 – New Information
The number of centenarians continues to grow, as does our fascination about what they are doing to keep themselves healthy as they reach 100 years old and beyond.
While we want to live long, healthy and happy lives, we aren’t quite sure we can make it to 100 and more years and still age successfully.
Those who have become centenarians have much to teach us and our senior loved ones about healthy living.
A new report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics revealed a few more facts about centenarians recently.
The CDC found that the number of those who are 100 or more has grown in 2014 to 72,197 up from 50,281 in 2000. Not surprisingly, women comprised 80% of centenarians.
There are many reasons more and more people are living to be 100, including improvements in medical care beginning in the 1900s, especially advances in infectious disease prevention and treatment.
We also have to look toward genetics (you can’t pick your family right?) and lifestyle, including eating well and being physically active.
Top 5 Causes of Death Among Centenarians
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
The numbers of centenarians who die from Alzheimer’s disease increased markedly.
It is interesting however that about 40% of centenarians do not get Alzheimer’s at all.
For many of these older seniors, cognitive function remains fairly well intact and any signs of dementia are delayed compared to the rest of the population.
Advice from Centenarians
Most people who are 100 or more years old, even those super-centenarians who are 110 or older, when asked will tell you they have no secret to longevity.
Here are some common denominators among centenarians:
- They say they lived their life as best they could
- Many never smoked or drank, they get a good night’s sleep and they never shied away from living
- Many take few, if any, prescription medications
- Most have held a positive attitude and remained optimistic throughout their lives
- Worked hard and were lifelong learners
- Held family and personal connections dear and remained socially engaged
- More than 90% are disability free and living independently
There are an estimated 300 supercentenarians worldwide.
How Science is Battling Aging
There’s nothing certain but death and taxes…(ba duh boom).
That is a joke but has a basis in truth. Can science change that?
Age is a primary risk factor for most diseases. Are we treating these chronic diseases the right way? Science hopes to answer that question.
Here are some scientific findings that may impact how we treat chronic disease in the future as well as prevention tips.
- Gut health – there are normal and healthy bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts, but when that bacteria moves out of the GI tract into other tissues of the body it causes infections and it can hurt the immune system, cognition and muscle tissue integrity. Antibiotics can kill both good and bad bacteria in our guts.
- Telomeres – shortening over our lifetimes, these structures impact age related declines in health. The amount of shortening is influenced largely by genetics but also our lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, stress and our environment. Affecting the amount of an enzyme, called telomerase, that builds telomeres could help but more study is needed to determine if it could be harmful.
- Stem cells – as we age, our stem cell production declines. These cells are important because they can replicate and rebuild whatever tissue needs help. Our diet and environment can damage stem cells as can sun exposure.
- Mitochondria – inside most cells and important for its functioning, mitochondria make energy. When it breaks down it affects the entire body, not just the individual cell. If seems this damage can be repaired but that doesn’t appear at this time to reverse its effect on aging.
Whether or not these scientific findings will result in changes in how we age, prevent disease or live healthfully remains to be seen.
It is amazing however how science discovery impacts our health and well-being.
As always, we will keep you informed about actions you and your senior loved one can take to improve your health.
For now as we and other sources say – eat right, get a good night’s sleep, get plenty of exercise, stop smoking, reduce your stress and engage with others to keep your senior’s and your own brain sharp.