THE FUTURE OF AGING: Some Facts, Fictions & Figures
Part 1 of an Informational Series
… presented as a service to our visitors who look forward to more years in their life and more life in their years
The dramatic increase in life expectancy of 20th century Americans is one of our society’s great cultural and scientific advances. But are we prepared to address the challenges that a healthy elderly population will present? Which of the following statements, for example, would you say is true?
1) Aging in America is a temporary phenomena caused by the post-WWII baby boom.
The aging world won’t diminish once the baby boomers pass on. All trending data indicates that we are well on our way toward a fundamentally new, permanent and older age structure in America.
In the second half of the 20th century, life expectancy at birth increased dramatically, rapidly rising by more than 30 years. By 2000, the rate of newborns expected to survive past the age of 65 had nearly doubled to 83%. Social scientists indicate that this ongoing process of aging in America will be an enduring part of our demographics. By 2030, nearly one in every five Americas—more than 71 million people– will be age 65 or older.
2) More Americans are “aging in place.”
Most elderly Americans are choosing to grow old within the same communities where they have long lived. As they age, more and more seniors are living in their own homes and in the communities of their choice, safely, independently and comfortably—regardless of income or ability level.
Contrary to popular belief, only a small minority of Americans is moving to warmer climates upon retirement. And less than 5% of the 65-and-older population resides in nursing homes.
3) In the future, human life spans may be extended to between 120 and 180 years.
This is the belief of biogerentology scientists, those who specialize in research into human aging and life extension. They cite examples of “zero aging” in certain species if mollusks and insects as proof that the biological aging process is not fundamentally inevitable.
Biogerentologists maintain that the conquest of cancer is the greatest challenge to a dramatic increase in human life spans. Toward that end, they envision a cancer “early-warning” surveillance system using the body’s own immune defenses. In the future, granulocytes, a category of white blood cells, will be recruited as the body’s first line of defense against aggressive cancer cells.
Series to be continued …