Healthy Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in the Western world has been increasing over recent decades, but the later years are often with some illness or disability, and in fact the “Healthy Life Years” or “Healthy Life Expectancy” has not improved, and even shows signs of declining. Health authorities are now increasingly concerned with raising that last measure, as it suits neither the individuals or the country to extend life if it’s with illness or increasing disability.

So how many healthy years can you expect, on average, at age 65?

US menUS womenUK menUK women
Life Expectancy17.720.318.620.9
Healthy Life Expectancy12.914.810.310.9

Note that these are averages, and take no account of factors like: healthy environment; healthy behavior; getting checks and screening; access to quality health care.

If you’re already in the early stages of a disease, then you know already what is the greatest threat to your healthy lifespan. But what about reducing other threats? And if you’re in reasonable health now, and want to stay that way, what might be the greatest threats?

According to UK government statistics, in 2015, the most likely cause of death for older people was:
Men 60-79: Heart disease, Lung cancer, Chronic lower respiratory diseases, Stroke, Prostate cancer.
Men 80+: Dementia, Heart disease, Influenza and pneumonia, Stroke, Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Women 60-79: Lung cancer, Chronic lower respiratory diseases, Heart disease, Dementia, Stroke.
Women 80+: Dementia, Heart disease, Stroke, Influenza and pneumonia, Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Note: Chronic lower respiratory diseases consist of: Chronic obstructed pulmonary disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.

So if you’re in your 60’s or 70’s, the biggest threats to a long healthy life depend partly on gender, but in general are:

Heart disease
Dementia
Stroke
Cancer, especially Lung and Prostate
Respiratory Diseases
Influenza and Pneumonia

If, like me, you want to beat the averages, and turn more of your remaining years into healthy years, then all the more reason to adopt changes in lifestyle and diet, where there’s evidence that it can help you counter these threats.
If you do nothing else, then at least read Doctor Greger’s book “How Not to Die”, and adopt some of his recommendations about daily diet. You’ve nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain.

Sources

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthy_Life_Years

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6228a1.htm

UK Office for National Statistics
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/healthstatelifeexpectanciesuk/2015to2017

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