Many people are surprised to learn that, once you have passed the age of 65, the median life expectancy of a Baby Boomer is actually several years longer than the life expectancy for the general American public. This is because the average life expectancy of all Americans includes the deaths of everyone from infants to young adults. When we estimate the number of years left for the typical Baby Boomer, we are only looking at the remaining years of life left for people who are already in their 60s, 70s or older.
With these thoughts in mind, below are some statistics which may interest you:
Life Expectancy of all U.S. residents in 2021: 76.6 years
Life Expectancy for 65 year old Baby Boomers in 2021: 82 to 85 years
The life expectancy for all U.S. residents has dropped by over two years since 2019, when it was 78.8 years. The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on lifespans around the world. However, you will be pleased to know that the typical living Baby Boomer is still likely to live into their 80s, especially if they are vaccinated for Covid and avoid getting either that or any other serious disease.
Your life expectancy can vary depending on many factors. Below are a few.
The state where you live:
If you live in Hawaii, California, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington State or Colorado, your life expectancy at birth will be between 80 and 81 years.
If you live in West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma or Arkansas, your life expectancy at birth will be between 74.4 and 75.6 years.
These are based on 2019 statistics, the most current available from the CDC. If you live in a state which was particularly hard hit by Covid, the average remaining life expectancy could be lower, because life expectancy dropped sharply in 2020 and 2021.
You can see that there is almost a six year difference in the life span of American citizens, based simply on the state where they live. The reason for this often is because of the typical lifestyle in those places, the normal diet, the amount of exercise senior citizens tend to get, and the quality of the healthcare available. As a result, if you live in a state with a low life expectancy, but you behave as though you live in a state with a higher life expectancy, you may be able to add years to your life.
Women have a longer life expectancy than men. In New Mexico, the average woman will live 6.2 years longer than the average man. In Utah, the average woman will live 3.2 years longer.
People who eat right, maintain a healthy weight, and get regular aerobic exercise are likely to live longer than people who who throw all caution to the wind. If you are not sure where to start in improving your lifestyle, you may enjoy reading "How Not to Die." (Ad) It could add years to your life.
Once you reach age 65, your remaining life expectancy increases, especially if you are in good health:
On average, if you reach age 65 and live in Hawaii, California, Connecticut, New York, Colorado or Minnesota, your average life expectancy is another 20 to 21.1 years. In other words, on average you have a good chance of living to be at least 85 years old.
The numbers are not quite as good if you live in Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee or Louisiana, because you are likely to only live an additional 17.5 to 17.9 years, or until the age of 82 or 83. Still, that is much better than the estimated national life expectancy of a newborn baby, which is only about 77.
You can learn where your state falls on the list at the Centers for Disease website at:
Illnesses and Chronic Health Conditions Can Affect Lifespan
As you can see from the above charts, they universally show that the older you are when you are diagnosed with cancer, the shorter your remaining life expectancy will be, although the type of cancer can make a difference. When all types of cancer are lumped together, the life expectancy of a 70 to 75 year old who is diagnosed with cancer can be as much as 15 more years, while the remaining life expectancy of a 90 year old with the same disease is only about 5 more years. As you can see, getting common cancers late in life may not significantly affect your remaining lifespan, thanks to huge strides which have been made in cancer treatments over the past few years. Of course, if you develop an especially aggressive cancer, or one which is hard to diagnose, such as pancreatic cancer, your lifespan is likely to be much shorter.
(Journal of Advanced Research, Volume 20, November 2019)
Late stage, severe dementia, on the other hand, can significantly reduce your life span. According to research by the National Institute of Health, "the mean survival time after dementia diagnosis was 4.1 years, and more than 2 of those years were spent in moderate (14-month) and severe (12-month) stages. Women with dementia lived longer than men, as they survived longer in the severe stage (2.1 vs. 0.5 years among 75-84 year-old women compared to men).
Personally, having had a mother who suffered with severe dementia during the last four years of her life, I am not sure there is an advantage to women living longer under these circumstances. The quality of life for a severe dementia patient is very poor, and this puts a lot of stress on their families.
If you want to reduce your dementia risk as you age, you may want to read the article on this blog titled "Cut Your Dementia Risk by 40% in 12 Steps!" It has useful, scientific tips for avoiding or postponing a dementia diagnosis. Following these steps could give you a number of additional years of quality life.
Most other illnesses, such as heart disease, have already been factored into the estimated lifespan for Baby Boomers, mentioned above. However, anytime you are given a specific diagnosis of an illness, you may want to go to the website for the Association devoted to that illness. Most of them have estimators which will help you determine what your expected life expectancy will be, at your exact age, with your specific diagnosis. Like the charts for cancer, shown earlier in the article, the older you are when you are given a serious diagnosis, the fewer years you are likely to live. Remember, though, that you are not a statistic, and most senior citizens do not suffer from just one illness. As a result, you may live a longer or shorter time than the estimator. However, the health association websites can give you valuable information so you know what to expect and what you can do to extend your life as much as possible.
The Good News
Many people have heard all their lives that the average life expectancy in the United States is around 77 or 78, with men living a couple of years less than that, and women living a couple of years longer. However, if you have successfully reached the age of 65, and you are in reasonably good health, the truth is that you can hope to live until your early to mid-80s, and possibly much longer.
You can improve your odds of having a long, healthy life if you try to follow the Blue Zone diet and lifestyle. The Blue Zones are areas of the world where people routinely live to their 90s and even over 100, while leading healthy, active lives. If you want to learn how to incorporate the Blue Zone lifestyle into your life, you could start by reading "The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest." (Ad).
According to the website rate.com, "living until age 90 isn't some wild outlier. The SOA's data suggests that a 65-year-old male today, in average health, has a 35% chance of living to 90; for a woman the odds are 46%."
Baby Boomers should not give up on life. If you keep eating healthy, getting exercise, and following your doctor's instructions, you may have many more good years ahead!
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