The Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging (MLIA) released its 2010 predictions that identify medical breakthroughs, technological advances and healthy lifestyles as trends that are set to have a profound effect on the U.S. population of nearly 40 million people who will be over the age 65 in the coming year.
“Our older adult population continues to expand as each year passes, so more focus is being placed on ways to live a longer, healthier life,” said Linda Hollinger Smith, PhD., Vice President, Mather LifeWays Institute On Aging. “Progress on extending human life, either through genetic research or living a healthier lifestyle, will be one the top trends older Americans will witness next year.”
Hollinger-Smith said that in 2010, not only will there be more Americans over the age of 65, but the number of those 85 and older will increase as well. “A decade ago, reaching the age of 85 was considered very old. Now it’s more the norm. Next year, 14.4 percent of the age 65+ population — 5.7 million individuals — will be over age 85,” explained Hollinger-Smith.
Among the top 2010 trends identified by MLIA are:
1. Scientific breakthroughs will demonstrate that healthy lifestyles can actually repair DNA by boosting a key enzyme, telomerase, that is vital for improving the body’s immune responses and may even increase longevity.
2. The movement to more homelike environments for older adults living in long-term care communities will grow. Programs will provide care, support individuality, and promote safety in a residential environment.
3. Improvements in health care will lead to ever slowing rates of aging, increasing the number of adults who will reach the age of 100.
4. There will be an increased focus on positivity and its impact on happiness, health and longevity for older adults.
5. The use of technology among older adults will grow exponentially – whether this means surfing the Internet, joining social networks such as Facebook, or using technologic devices in the home to monitor their health as well as promote independence and safety.
6. Progress on extending human life will be a growing focus of researchers, as we learn more about how substances in our foods – such as resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes and in several other plants – may protect us from some life-shortening diseases such as diabetes.
7. Older adults will play an increasingly important role in “helping the Earth age well”, by working in green jobs, volunteering, gardening, and teaching others about how to help the environment.
8. Significant advanced in treatments for diseases including cancer will occur through genetic research efforts that are preventing DNA mutations.
9. Greater numbers of older adults will use the Internet to learn about their health. Health professionals will need to incorporate web-based health resources into their patients’ visits to assure that accurate websites are being sought out.
10. Senior living residences will also make “healthy living” a priority as future prospects will be looking towards a variety of programs and amenities that support wellness lifestyles.