Here’s great news for Zoomers – for everyone really. An American study finds that in addition to the increase in life expectancy in recent decades, people are now also healthier later in life. The authors of the research out of Harvard say people are generally in better shape than they used to be, except for the year or two just before death. And where it was common to find people who were very sick for the last 6 or seven years of life, the period of time in which we’re in poor health appears to have been compressed.
The researchers analyzed data from 90,000 U.S. Medicare beneficiaries between 1991 and 2009 and compared it with information on whether they were able to cook, clean, bathe, dress, walk and manage money. The idea was to determine how healthy they were in relation to how close they were to dying.
The researchers say the biggest factor is the improvement in medicine for conditions like cardiovascular disease, which are no longer as debilitating as they once were. The study authors say there are now fewer heart attacks, partly because of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and the recovery from heart attacks and strokes is much better.
They also credit increased knowledge of how to live healthier lives though further research is needed to nail down all the factors. .
The bottom line: we are living to older ages and we are adding healthy years, not debilitated ones.