How old is “old age?” Older than it used to be, at least!
A major new report makes a clear and convincing case that people in their sixties simply do not have the life or health profile that we once characterized as “old.” They are healthier, happier, more active, more vivacious, and living longer than ever before.
That’s been the perception for a while. Take a look at the fifty- and sixty-somethings in your own life or on TV. How many of them strike you as “old”?
Now we have a study, based on a large body of credible research, to prove that those changing perceptions are well founded. Specifically, the study shows all the following:
- Heart disease, cancer, and serious illness are all down by nearly 50% over the last decade in both men and women in their sixties.
- Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s are down by similar rates.
- Only 7.7% of people aged 60-64 have had heart attack or stroke.
- The 50-and-up demographic now accounts for an overall smaller percentage of the total number of people with serious illnesses.
Experts credit the remarkable improvement to a few factors:
- Better awareness of diet and exercise
- Decrease in smoking
- Improvements in cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Better medications, especially statins and blood pressure pills
- More active lifestyles
Naturally, there is a flip side. Lower rates of disease in the sixties translates to a higher rate of illness in the eighties, but then that is at least more in line with people’s lifetime expectations. It’s likely this is just the beginning, too. I expect more good news in the health department on the horizon.
Old age may not have been “cured,” but it’s certainly been delayed. That’s great news for all of us as we realize just how much life we still have waiting down the road.