Do you think you will live to be 100?

A headline in the news recently is the 112-year-old Montana man who became the world’s oldest living man after 113-year old Henry Allingham of England died Saturday.

The lucky man, Walter Breuning, was born September 21, 1896. He learned to read by kerosene lantern and remembers his grandfather’s stories of his service in the Civil War. He still dresses in a suit and tie.

In fact, it looks like all of us have an increased chance of living to at least 100 years old. The dramatic rise in population over the last century has been accompanied by an even more dramatic rise in life expectancy.

For example, when the U.S. population reached 100 million in 1915, the average lifespan was 54 years. When we hit 200 million in 1967, it reached approximately 70.

Some experts on aging say that within 50 years, the average person living in an industrialized nation with access to health care will live to be at least 100.

During the first half of the 20th century, revolutionary advances in medicine and public health raised the average life expectancy in the U.S. by more than 20 years – from age 47 in 1900 to age 68 in 1950.

According to the CDC, the 10 greatest medical and public health achievements of the 20th century were:

  • Vaccination against disease, resulting in the elimination of major diseases of the early 20th century, such as smallpox and polio.
  • Control of infectious disease through improved sanitation, clean water sources, and the introduction of antibiotics.
  • Improvements in motor-vehicle safety.
  • Improved workplace safety.
  • Improved food safety.
  • Decline in deaths from heart disease and stroke.
  • Smaller families with longer birth intervals due to family planning.
  • Improved prenatal care.
  • Fluoridation of drinking water.
  • Public health efforts to reduce smoking.

Sources: New York Post, http://www.webmd.com/news/20061017/americans-living-longer-than-ever

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