Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Humans - We're living longer and staying healthier - 3.24.10

People in developed nations are living in good health as much as a decade longer than their parents did, not because aging has been slowed or reversed, but because they are staying healthy to a more advanced age.

"We're living longer because people are reaching old age in better health," said demographer James Vaupel, author of a review article appearing in the March 25 edition of Nature. But once it starts, the process of aging itself -- including dementia and heart disease -- is still happening at pretty much the same rate. "Deterioration, instead of being stretched out, is being postponed."

The better health in older age stems from public health efforts to improve living conditions and prevent disease, and from improved medical interventions, said Vaupel, who heads Duke University's Center on the Demography of Aging and holds academic appointments at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, and the institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Demark.

Over the past 170 years, in the countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span has grown at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about 6 hours per day.

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