Longevity, public health, medical technology

The average life expectancy (LE) in 1900 was 47 years of age. In 2008, the average LE in the US was 80 years, and now the US Census Bureau projects that the average LE will be 79.5 years. Life expectancy in the US differs by sex and race. Women live about 5 years longer than men, and whites live about 4 years longer than African-Americans.

At the population level, increased life expectancy has been attributed to two major factors related to technology. Public health measures such as vaccinations and water treatment have added 25-30 years to our life expectancy while medical advances have added about 5 years. These measures have significantly reduced the incidence of infant mortality and allowed people to be healthier well into their 70’s, 80’s and beyond. (Source: https://www.census.gov/prod/1/pop/p23-190/p23190-g.pdf)

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Part 1: Take the following online survey: http://www.livingto100.com/calculator/age

Take note of the questions being asked in the survey and consider the factors that might impact your longevity. (NOTE: The survey does ask you to provide an email address and create a password as the calculator is regularly updated to account for new research findings. If you have strenuous objections to providing your email address you can create a dummy account through a free email provider or contact the instructor for an alternate writing assignment. )

Part 2: At the level of the individual, genetic and environmental factors help to predict how long a person will live.  For this discussion topic, review the learning resources for this week.

Respond to the following questions:

  • Share your survey results – what is your predicted life expectancy? What factors contributed to your longevity (or lack thereof)?
  • What are the economic, sociological, psychological, and healthcare implications of an aging population that could live indefinitely?
  • What role does technology play in health across the lifespan? How does it keep us from being healthy? How does it promote health?
  • How long do you think we should live? Should we live indefinitely or should there be limits? Justify your response.

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