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The Slow Upward Trend in Life Expectancy at 65 Continues

Remaining life expectancy for older people, such as at 65, has been increasing slowly for a long time. The smoothed rate is in the vicinity of one year of additional life expectancy gained for every passing decade, though as recent data shows the year to year changes in the statistical measure of life expectancy are more variable. This upward trend is most likely the result of some combination of increased wealth, which allows for greater use of medical technology among other things, and improvements in the quality of medical technology to treat age-related disease. Therapies and outcomes for heart disease have improved greatly over the past twenty years, for example.

It is still the case that all of this additional life is something of an incidental side-effect, however: the clinical community isn't yet deliberately targeting and treating the forms of cell and tissue damage that cause aging. Treatments are instead patching the consequences. While the patches are getting better, for so long as they fail to address the root causes of disease and degeneration, the benefits will always be limited. When efforts to repair the damage that causes aging start in earnest, when for example it is possible for the average person to buy a senescent cell clearance therapy a few years from now, then expect to see the life expectancy trend to leap upwards in comparison to the past.

Over the last 30 years there has been an upward trend in life expectancy at older ages in England. However, male life expectancy was lower in 2012 than 2011 at ages 85 and 95, and at ages 65 and 75 it was the same in both years. There were no further falls in 2013, and this flattening of the recent trend has not continued in 2014, which saw a rise in life expectancy once again.

For those aged 65, men can expect to live for another 19 years and women a further 21 years. Life expectancy among older age groups in England rose to its highest level in 2014 - with male life expectancy increasing by 0.3 years at age 65 and 0.2 years at ages 75, 85 and 95 since 2013. Female life expectancy increased by the same amounts at the same ages. In the past, statistics have tended to focus on life expectancy at birth but now that most deaths in England occur in people over the age of 80, patterns of mortality in older age groups are becoming more important.

In the EU as a whole there has been an overall upward trend in life expectancy at older ages. The charts show an upward trend for male and female life expectancy at ages 65, 75 and 85 for the EU as a whole and its largest countries, including the UK. There was a dip in life expectancy in 2012 for the EU and many of the largest EU countries. In the EU as a whole, male life expectancy at age 85 fell by 0.1 years between 2011 and 2012, and female life expectancy at age 85 fell by 0.2 years. In contrast, between 2012 and 2013, almost all countries in the EU had an increase in life expectancy. While some countries had particularly large increases in life expectancy at older ages between 2012 and 2013, the increases for the UK were small in comparison. The rise in the UK was smaller than the EU average rise in every age group except males aged 85, was smaller than similar sized countries such as France and Spain, but was greater than Germany.

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35550407

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