Aging, Health and Life Expectancy – Critical Response

Please watch the Frontline documentary, Living Old, in its entirety and answer the following questions: 

  • What factors contribute to life expectancy and longevity? 
  • What variables contribute to individual differences in health among older adults? 
  • What are you personally doing now to help ensure that you will have a healthy life cognitively, socially, emotionally, and spiritually as you age?

The introduction of medical advances within the past century and subsequent improvements in lifestyle choices have resulted in an overall increase in longevity across the board. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development currently estimates that the life expectancy of persons in the United States and Japan now reaches 84 and 86 years consecutively (World Health Organization, 2018, p. 66). Nonetheless, it is critical to acknowledge that there are a number of factors that contribute to life expectancy and longevity.

 Gender statistics reveal a disparity in the mortality rates of men and women of the same age. Pundits often attribute this incongruence to the risky behavior that men have been known to engage in at their prime. Genetic factors also impact mortality rates. Some predispositions may result in subjects being at a higher risk of suffering from complications such as heart disease, accidents, self-harm or even hypertension. A person’s life expectancy may also decrease on account of their socio-economic status. This is because they may be unable to participate in healthy lifestyles or gain access medical care. Moreover, prenatal conditions are also associated with a higher mortality rate amongst senior citizens. Childhood conditions have a direct influence on an individual’s longevity, especially when the disorders proceed to weaken the body (Larson & Declaire, 2017, p. 78). Marital status has also been found to influence life expectancy. A lower mortality rate is typically recorded for the widowed, divorced or individuals who have never been married. Conversely, those in committed relationships are often projected to live longer owing to an improvement in cardiac health and regular spousal motivation. Higher levels of education are also associated with improved longevity since the said persons are better equipped with the knowledge on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Furthermore, there are also a number of variables that contribute to the individual health differences witnessed among older adults. Heredity and current habits play a major role in determining the health of senior members of society. Family history has recently been blamed for a host of common diseases chief among them being autoimmune disorders, diabetes and cancer. The inheritance of certain sets of genes predispose an individual to developing the aforementioned disorders, which is why family history is regarded as an ideal predictor of the risks senior members face. Poor diet and the consumption of alcohol also contribute to ageing differences witnessed among older adults. While poor diet fails to promote the body’s repair mechanism, alcohol exaggerates ageing by marking an early onset of premature symptoms a heightened risk of bone loss, cardiac dysrhythmia and cancer. Bearing this in mind, I am currently engaging in a number of activities that will ensure I have a healthy life cognitively, socially, emotionally and spiritually as I age. Constant brain exercises function as a way of improving my cognitive abilities. Puzzles build new neural pathways and strengthen existing connections. In particular, acrostics and syllacrostics stimulate the brain, allowing it to improving its coping capabilities when generating new memories. Yoga and fitness promote my social wellness. It allows me to connect with my core as a precursor for the development of meaningful relationships with kin and friends. Developing practical coping skills also come in handy when seeking to develop practical alternatives when facing life’s challenges. It allows one to navigate difficult relationships and find alternatives when confronted by trials. Also, it is fundamental to take time off busy schedules to reconnect with family members for they also function as a support system. Seeking connection with others improves my emotional wellness and allows me to share my experiences with others. Additionally, meditation and connecting with myself will promote my spiritual wellness; allowing me to relax more and free my mind of any worries.

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