Americans are living much longer than decades ago, but those extra years are spent in illness and disability. Since 2010, the average life span for a man increased 9.2 years to 76.2 years of age and for women it’s an increase of 6.7 years to the age of 81.
But even though the life span has been extended, the number of years living with disability rose as well. For men, the number of years in disability increased by 4.7 years, and for women it’s 3.6 years. Disability-free span increased too, but still fell short, with only 4.5-year increase for men and 2.7-year increase for women. As you can see, those extra years of disability still outnumber the additional disability-free years.
Lead author Eileen Crimmins said, “We could be increasing the length of poor-quality life more than good-quality life. There are a number of indications that the baby boomer generation that is now reaching old age is not seeing improvements in health similar to the older groups that went before them.”
“Clearly, there is a need to maintain health and reduce disability at younger ages to have meaningful compression of morbidity across the age range. The trends for the last 40 years do not support projections and policies that are based on assumptions of a reduced length of disabled life,” Crimmins concluded.