There’s a reason why Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has been popular for ages. We all want to peek into the future—even if it scares us a bit.
Now you can. Want to know how long you’ll live? It’s simple.
If you’re age 65, you’ll live another 19.3 years—you’ll shuffle off this mortal coil just short of your 85th birthday. Men get only 18 more years—women, 20.5.
None of us can know exactly how long we’ll live, of course. But it’s fun to play with averages. That’s easy when you delve into the latest and very comprehensive US government report on aging in America—the 2016 edition of Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being. It lays out a pretty detailed snapshot of the health of Americans who have reached at least their 65th birthday…
- You’ll live longer than earlier generations. Between 1999 and 2014, the likelihood that you will die in any given year dropped by 20%!
- Death rates per year declined for heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia.
- Men are more likely to get dementia younger…women when they are older. Five percent of men and 3% of women ages 65 to 74 have dementia. By age 85 and older, 24% of men and 30% of women have dementia.
- The flip side? More people are living longer with a chronic condition. The percentage of people age 65 and up who have hypertension, asthma, cancer and diabetes is higher now than it was in 1998.
- Chances are you won’t have a disability. About 22% of those ages 65 and older have some form of disability, defined as a limitation in vision, hearing, mobility, communication, cognition or self-care. By age 85, it’s still only 42%. The most common one—walking or climbing stairs.
- You keep driving at night for a long time. Amongst those 65 and older who live on their own (rather than in an institution), 33% skip the nighttime motoring. For those ages 65 to 74, it’s 25%. By age 85, it’s still only 55%.
- You don’t smoke—now. Only 10% of men and 8% of women currently smoke, but 50% of men and 30% of women once did.
- Yes, you’re fatter. Between 1998 and 1994, 22% of people age 65 and older were obese. Now it’s 35%.
- You’re not so good at seeing your dentist every year. Only 62% did.
- You might have gotten a flu shot last year—70% did.
- You’re breathing cleaner air. In the year 2000, 66% of people age 65 and older lived in a county with poor air quality. Now it’s only 16%.
- You’re getting better at cancer screenings. For example, only 54% of women and 51% of men got colorectal screening (such as a colonoscopy) in the 50-to-64 age group, but for those who are 65-to-74, the numbers shoot up to 69% for women and 70% for men.
- Compared with earlier generations, you’re getting a little better at working out—37% meet guidelines for weekly aerobic exercise and 17% for strength training. Only 12% meet both guidelines for weekly exercise—but that’s better than 1998, when only 6% did.
- You’re happier now. Men and women ages 65 to 79 are less likely to be depressed than those ages 50 to 64. After age 80, though, depression rates creep up again.
What does it all add up to? Pretty good health, at least by your own standards. When asked about their health status, 78% of those age 65 and older rate their health as “good,” “very good” or “excellent.” Want to beat the odds? See the Bottom Line article, “How to Live to 100.” While you’re at it, sip a little longevity-boosting chamomile tea.