People will Live Longer by 2035 but Will Be Twice as Sick

Between 2015 and 2035, the number of older people who are diagnosed with four more diseases will double, and a third of these people will be diagnosed with dementia, depression, or cognitive impairment, a new study says.

The new study conducted by researchers at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing was a study published on Tuesday, January 1, 2018, in Age and Aging, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, EurekAlert!, the science news journal reported.

Life expectancy up, overall health down

The researchers found that over the next 20 years life expectancy for men will increase by 3.6 years and 2.9 years for women.

However, despite an increase in longevity, the number of people suffering from multiple diseases, known as multi-morbidity, will grow massively. Researchers predict that the number of people diagnosed with four more diseases will double in the population of people 85 years or older.

Increase in multiple diseases

Over the next 20 years, for the older population specifically, researchers predict that diagnoses for cancer will be up by 179.4 percent. Diabetes will rise by 118.1 percent. Arthritis will also rise at rates similar to those predicted for cancer. One-third of people 85 years and older will be diagnosed with dementia, depression, or some form of cognitive impairment.

But people 85 years or older won’t be the only ones suffering from multiple diseases. The age range between 65 to 74 years is also predicted to have two or three diseases.

Currently, 45 percent of the so-called “young old,” those who are aged 65 to 74 have two or more medical conditions. However, the new study predicts that this will increase to 53 percent once people who were born in the 1960s reach this age range, The Times UK reports. Researchers say this will “dramatically increase the health and social care burden.”

What’s behind the increase?

Researchers say that the prevalence of obesity and lack of physical activity are the highest risk factors that will lead to multiple diseases. As people live longer, their bodies start to break down like they’re not meant to be used this long. It’s also a challenge to keep up a healthier lifestyle as time goes on. Some people just give up altogether.

We should be looking for quality of life over a number of years as we think about aging. While the idea of living a long life is beyond appealing, some people just assume they’ll be fine. Instead, they suffer long years in misery as years of neglect catch up.