New findings uncovered that Americans are living longer and better lives. Harvard researchers reviewed federal government data and found that life expectancy since 1992 rose by 17.5 additional years, with 8.9 of those years being disability-free. In 2008, the average 65-year-old was living an additional 18.8 years with 10.7 of those years disability-free.
Co-author David Cutler said, “This suggests, for the typical person, there really is an act beyond work — that once you reach age 65, you can likely look forward to years of healthy activity. So this is good news for the vast bulk of people who can now look forward to healthier, disability-free life, but it’s also good news for medical care because it demonstrates the value of medical spending.”
The researchers account for the extra longevity to improvements in vision and heart care along with better prevention.
Cutler added, “There has been an incredibly dramatic decline in deaths and disabilities from heart disease and heart failure. Some of it is the result of people smoking less, and better diet, but we estimate that as much as half of the improvement is because of medical care, especially statin drug treatment, which is both preventing heart attacks and improving people’s recovery.”
Vision care has also improved with better treatments for cataracts. “In the past, cataract surgery was very lengthy and technically difficult. That same surgery today can be done in an outpatient setting, so that complications and disability are significantly ameliorated,” Cutler explained.
Cutler concluded, “It used to be that when you turn 70, your occupation became managing your health. Now you can increasingly just live your life.”
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: More Americans are surviving cancer, hit record of 15.5 million.