People living today can expect to live longer than anyone else in human history. Before the advent of farming, life expectancy was just 18 at birth because of the fact that living in the wild was so tough. Then it rose to around 25 during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Britain, but it stayed flat, thanks to the fact that sanitation was so poor and people died from waterborne diseases, like cholera and dysentery.
By the nineteenth century in England, life expectancy had risen to about 35, reflecting better hygiene standards in the city and a rising standard of living. After that, as people got wealthier and wealthier, life expectancies continued to rise, doubling in the twentieth century to around 80.
But with rising lifetimes came new problems: the problems of old age. Many people found themselves living longer, only to suffer from new diseases in later life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who live past the retirement age of 65 can expect to live another 19.3 years on average. But in that time they will face many health concerns. Here are some of them.
According to the data, around 2.5 million people each year over the age of 65 have to visit accident and emergency because of a fall. About a third of the people who fall will find themselves back in the emergency room again in the following year, according to a study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Falls can occur anywhere in the home, but they’re especially prevalent on slippery bathroom floors and when walking on rugs if the rugs are fixed to the ground properly.
Substance abuse is something that is typically associated with dysfunctional youth. But the data suggests that as many as one in five people over the age of 65 abuse substances in some way to help take the edge off their loneliness and depression. Alcohol and tobacco were the most common forms of drug addiction, but many seniors also take illegal drugs. The worry is that these substances will further harm them, making things like falls and visits to the doctors more likely, ruining their quality of life.
Incontinence is something that affects one in three people over the age of 65 and is continuing to grow, thanks to lifestyle choices and the obesity of the baby boomer generation. Currently, 36 percent of men and 40 percent of women between the ages of 65 and 74 are obese – a sign that older people aren’t as active as they once were. Thanks to these lifestyle issues, many more older people are having to buy incontinence pads.
Around 45 percent of people over the age of 65 live below the poverty level, despite the fact that the government supposedly forces them to save for retirement so that they can have an income. Low incomes are associated with a lack of travel to see friends, loneliness, boredom and isolation, as well as stress. All of these things can affect a person’s health in the long run.