People are living longer. In 1970, the average life expectancy at birth was 70.8 years; in 2000, it was 76.9 years; and by 2030 it is estimated that the “oldest-old,” age 85 and older, could grow to 10 million people.
Views on aging are also changing. It no longer necessarily means physical decline and illness— in the last two decades, the rate of disability among older people has declined dramatically.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigates ways to support healthy aging and prevent or delay the onset of diseases that disproportionately affect us as we age. These studies may not only increase longevity, but may also promote what is known as “active life expectancy”—the time of advancing years free of disability.