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Friday, March 25, 2011

Life Expectancy and The Golden Years

By Janine Sanderstine

According to preliminary results of figures released on March 17, 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in the United States are living much longer than ever before. The CDC reported that the death rate for the U.S. population for 2009 was 741 deaths per 100,000, which represents a 2.3% decrease from the 2008 rate.

"This marks the tenth year in a row that U.S. deaths rates have declined," the center said in a statement. From 2008 to 2009, oveall life expectancy rose from 78 years to 78.2 years. Death certificates from all 50 states were analyzed to get the data for the report.

During this same year, there was a 3.7% drop in heart disease, a 4.2% drop in strokes, a 4.1% drop in Alzheimer's disease, a 4.1% drop in diabetes, a 1.1% drop in cancer and deaths were down for this entire range of conditions. The agency speculates that better medical treatment, vaccination campaigns, and public health measures against smoking are likely driving these trends, and plans to more closely analyze the reasons for the decline when final data is released later this year.

No doubt about it, we will likely live longer lives than our parents and grandparents. Medicine has been improved due to the scientific advances made in recent years. Modern medicine can prevent or treat heart disease, diabetes, bacterial diseases and even cancer. Because of that, we'll all live longer on average. While these conditions may no longer killing us in the percentages that were the norm years ago, we now will live longer, increasing the odds that we will suffer additional ailments in our later years.

With the baby boomers now coming fully into the retirement age, it becomes easy to understand why we are now developing options that will allow us to live a full and creative life in our golden years. The time is now, and communities, businesses, families and friends are all devising alternatives for seniors that did not exist in the past.

Look into the adult education classes that are available locally. Everything from financial management, photography to crafts is offered specifically for seniors. Look into classes offered by your local parks and recreations departments. Tai Chi, aerobics and even chair exercises are offered - there is something for every senior. These classes are geared for everyone from the very athletic senior to those with special needs. The classes offered meet the various needs of today's seniors. And don't forget to check out your local senior center. The opportunities for social and recreational activities are too numerous to mention.

Yes, your senior years can be an exciting time to learn and grow, expand the boundaries of your experiences and make new friends. But, while you are doing this, who will do the shopping, prepare the meals and clean your home? How will you manage if you are no longer able to drive or are impaired physically or mentally in any way?

Luckily, there are now a variety of senior living options available to you, depending on where you live. Most states and communities now have assisted living facilities available for seniors who want to enjoy their lives to the fullest. They offer a secure environment with all the basic needs provided. Assisted living facilities can often provide additional services with varying degrees of care, should you become ill or require additional help.

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