Promising Demographic Data

We're far enough into the biotechnology revolution for longer-term studies - such as actuarial calculations, census-based demographic data, large-scale medical reporting reviews, and the like - to begin showing resulting trends in improving health and longevity:

The report, 65+ in the United States: 2005 [PDF], was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, to provide a picture of the health and socioeconomic status of the aging population. It highlights striking shifts in aging on a population scale

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This report tells us that we have made a lot of progress in improving the health and well-being of older Americans, but there is much left to do.

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The U.S. population age 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost 1-out-of-5 Americans - some 72 million people - will be 65 years or older. The age group 85 and older is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

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The proportion with a disability fell significantly from 26.2 percent in 1982 to 19.7 percent in 1999.

Another mainstream media digest of the report:

What we're seeing nationwide is, yes, people are living longer, and they're healthier

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In 1900, the average life expectancy for a newborn was 47.3 years; by 2003, it had reached 77.6 years. But people who turned 65 in 2000 could expect to live much longer, another 18 years.

This progress in lengthening our healthy life spans will continue provided that medical technology continues to be made more capable, reliable and less costly with each passing year - there are no necessary limits to active, healthy human life span beyond our lack of tools and knowledge to fix the accumulated damage. We are complex machines - better means of repair and a better owner's manual will lead to less damage, fewer system failures and longer healthy lives. A very good thing!

Some systems biologists see 10-20 year extensions of healthy life spans within two decades, resulting from general improvements in medical technology based on present trends - but we think it's possible to build a much better foundation for the effective treatment and repair of age-related cellular damage than that.

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