Header image

Life expectancy

Life expectency
There appears to be a continuing increase in life expectancy for us humans. Will this continue or has it reached its ceiling for now?

It’s amazing to think that early man actually only lived into their late teens/early twenties and only very recently just over two to three hundred years ago, that we were not living much more than into our late 30’s to mid 40’s. At around the turn of the 19th century, we started to live to around our late 40’s on average and by the turn of the 20th century that had jumped up to our 70’s, now there are more people living beyond 80 years of age. And all this despite our modern disruptive lifestyle.

Caveat: However, we may be seeing this start to go the other way soon. We may have had our honeymoon period and as our disruptive lifestyle, including our diet, physical and environmental health decline, then so will our life expectancy with it.

What makes us age?

Well there is some debate on this subject. Some believe that it is caused by the accumulation of cell and tissue damage that as we get older doesn’t get repaired or replaced. This happens as the body starts to prioritise its resources between the various processes. It also allows natural selection to take place, doing away with the old and in with the new to allow new life to be produced through reproduction and a way to improve the gene pool with each generation. Of course as modern humans have much less occurrence for stress created for fight or flight or life/death situations for survival, that process could possibly be a little less important now. Others ¬†believe that ageing can also be programmed into our DNA genetically.

What’s making us live longer?

As mentioned above, possibly that we have less fight or flight stress so maybe there are some biological changes, but also with more recent prevention and care of diseases, less malnourishment, less physical stress, better medication and medical procedures and healthcare, cleaner water and better food supply. Together with faster and more information to help populations globally, all leading to cleaner living and help at hand that our ancestors never had.

Some issues with living longer

Despite humans living longer, many people are not aging well. Us humans seem to like being destructive to ourselves and the environment for that matter. We are getting more obese, despite better nutrition being available, but temped instead by sugary/fatty foods and a much more lazy lifestyle.

Some other issues with an increased older population include more people suffering from dementia, diabetes, sight and hearing loss and much more. Of course living longer despite many advances in medical care still translates into many people suffering longer with pains and aches and disabilities for many years longer than our ancestors.

The problem/challenge is not just living longer but being healthy for longer, no one wants to live longer just to be in bad health for a long time and putting pressure on an already under resourced world and struggling health care systems.

How to live longer

Despite its issues people still want to live longer and doing it right is something that needs to be looked at. More research is being carried out on this area to see if they can work out more about the process of ageing and find ways to reduce its effects even more.

Whether our age is preprogrammed or a predisposition and can increase it or not, we can all improve the quality of our life in our more mature years, simply by being more healthy by altering our lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be an all out effort, but a change to be more active, eat better food and less of the poor quality nutritionally empty stuff, getting regular quality sleep and trying to reduce stress. By doing this we can have a much better life in our old age, with less chance of suffering from diseases and disabilities. With a healthier older population who are living a healthy lifestyle for long term health, there is a chance to also put less stress on our health care systems.

We need to help ourselves and take so responsibility for our own health too.

Finally, stop smoking and drinking alcohol………

One last thing before I finish – getting older in the modern world

Getting old for me isn’t the same as it was for my ancestors. At least it doesn’t seem to be. What I’m getting at is my mental age. I can honestly say my thoughts and likes aren’t that much different than when I was a young man. If when I was younger, say in my teens, someone said to me they were in their late 30’s or in their 40’s, I’d have thought they were old, not old, old, but significantly older than me and therefore a lifetime away. Now being 49 I just don’t feel mentally any different and being fit, I don’t feel like I couldn’t do much of what I could do as a young man. And I’m not alone in this. I also see a change in the way my peers think. I just think that mental age has definitely slowed down quite considerably and no I will not act my age (as it just doesn’t make any sense to act in a way you just don’t feel).

May you all ‘live long and prosper’