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Average longevity AKA average life expectancy

  • refers to the age at which half of the individuals born in a particular year will have died; affected by genetics and environmental factors
  • 79 years is the current average, so 79 years after the birth date of 1939,  half of those people will still be alive


Things that have affected the average

Infant mortality rate

Advancement in medicine

Mothers dying in childbirth


Maximum longevity

Is the oldest age to which any individual of a species lives 


Active life-expectancy

living to a healthy old age(time during which people are independent)


Dependent life expectancy

simply living a long time (time which people rely on others for daily life tasks) 


What are the environmental and genetic factors that influence longevity?

  • Genetic Factors
  • Correlation between family members (how long they lived)
  • Experimental gene implanting of good genes that could help us live longer
  • Connection between genetics and immune system
  • High threshold for disease and slower rates for disease than peers who develop chronic stuff at a younger age
  • Environmental Factors
  • Disease, toxins, lifestyle, social class
  • Exercise, pollution, toxins in fish, bacteria, cancer causing chemicals in water, airborne pollution
  • Poverty - reduced access to goods and services, medical, diet, no health insurance
  • We are responsible for most of these
  • bieng in a comited relationship extends life


How is quality of life defined and measured?

  • is a multi-dimensional concept that encompasses bio, psycho, sociocultural domains at any point in life 
  • Answer depends on how much they currently value their life, hope about the future, finds meaning in everyday events
  • Measurements of quality of life are in 2 categories:
  • Health related
  • All aspects of health status
  • Non-Health related
  • Environment such as entertainment, economic resources, art, things that affect our enjoyment of life
  • Research has focused on 2 areas
  • As related to a disease
  • As related to end of life
  • To what extent does distress from an illness or side-effects from treatment affect a person's wish to live
  • Difficult to assess in people with dementia and chronic diseases


Measurements of health with regard to self-rating

  • Self-rating happens to be very predictive of illness and mortality. Also is stable over time and often included in other methods used by researchers. All this because
  • 1) Captures more measures than other methods
  • 2) poor self report reflects their belief that they are on a downward spiral
  • 3) self-rating affect health related behaviors and outcomes
  • Men tend to rate health lower than women
  • Self-rating varies among socio-economic class; african americans are twice as likely to self-report low health than EU counterparts


WHO defines health as

the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity 

absence of acute or chronic or mental disease and impairments 

self rated is a good predictor 



Describe the ethnic and gender differences in longevity and the reasons for these differences

  • Gender
  • Women about 5 years more than men, narrowing to 1 year by 85
  • men are more susceptible to disease and environmental influences 
  • This only became apparent in the early 20th century because death at childbirth was really high prior
  • Men's chances of dying from the top 15 are higher
  • Men are more susceptible to infectious disease
  • Interaction between lifestyle, healthcare, susceptibility to disease, war/work accidents
  • Others point to genetic reasons like women having two X chromosomes to men's 1, lower metabolic rate etc... But these are not conclusive at all
  • 65 - 89 women score higher on cognitive tests
  • BUT beyond 90, men's cognitive re stronger


Describe the ethnic and gender differences in longevity and the reasons for these differences

  • Ethnic
  • Before 65 (when they have less access to good health care), african americans have a 6 (men) and 4(women) year gap (they live less long), after 65 it levels off to 2 years then they outlive european; latinos live longer; reasons have yet to be discovered
  • Sierra leone is the lowest at 38 and japan is the highest at 82
  • results from differences in nutrition, health care, stress, socioeconomic status  


Illness is 

the presence of a physical or mental disease or impairment 


describe the immune system


how are older adults more susceptible ?

  • Defense against foreign invaders is called the immune system
  • Cell mediated immunity
  • Humoral immunity
  • Non-specific immunity

older adults are more susceptible to:

Certain infections 

More prone to Viruses that young people can stave off 

Benefit less from immunization

Some forms of leukemia are cancers of the immune cells  

NK cells and other aspects of the immune system decrease with age 

Take longer to build up defenses even after immunization injections 



is when the immune system attacks the body itself 



  • is the study of relations between psychological, neurological, immunological systems tat raise or lower our susceptibility to and ability to recover from disease
  • So the power of good attitude on your immune system


Acute diseases are

conditions that develop over a short period of time and cause a rapid change in health


incidence of acute disease drop over time but severity increases with age 


Chronic diseases are 

conditions that last at least 3 months and accompanied by residual functional impairment that necessitates long term management 

incidence of chronic disease increases with age


The stress and coping paradigm model 

  • sees stress as an interaction between a thinking person and an event
  • In other words how we interpret an event causes the stress, not the actual event
  • The appraisal has to be that the situation is threatening, challenging or harmful


Primary appraisal 

  • into 3 groups: irrelevant, benign or positive, stressful
  • Allows us to sort out what is stressful and dangerous and what is not threatening


Secondary appraisal 

  • evaluates our perceived ability to cope with harm, threat or challenge
  • If you think you can do something about it, your stress level may decrease


reappraisal involves 

  • involves making a new primary or secondary appraisal resulting from changes in the situation
  • Can increase stress if you reappraise and it turns out to be worse than you thought or the opposite




  • attempts to deal with stressful events
  • Learned, not automatic
  • May evolve over time
  • Takes time and effort
  • Entails managing the situation, not overcoming it
  • Learn to cope with a tragic loss


Problem focused coping

  • attempts to tackle the problem head-on
  • Fix the flat tire by going on the internet and finding out how to do it


Emotion-focused coping

  • Involves dealing with one's feelings about the stressful event
  • Expressing grief
  • Meditation, relationship with god, with someone who has passed
  • If you are healthy and energetic, you can cope better than if you are sick and frail
  • Positive attitude helps a lot, problem solving skills, social skills and support, financial resources


Describe the age differences in coping strategies and sources of stressors

  • Younger adults with lower level of income and education are more stressed than older with money and education
  • Older adults more likely to use past experience, emotion-focused and religious coping strategies


effects of stress on the health of older adults?

  • Chronic stress leads
  • Susceptibility to viral infection
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Impaired memory and cognition
  • Changing the way you appraise the situation may be a way to lessen the impact
  • Study showed that experiencing negative life events is a major source of age-related declines in feelings of personal mastery - this may explain why older adults are more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress


What are the general issues associated with chronic diseases? 

  • Most older adults manage to get things done even with a chronic condition
  • Sociocultural: lack of adequate health care, creating barriers to treatment
  • Ethnic group differences re- susceptibility to certain conditions
  • Some conditions occur later (after mid-life) and some can occur at any time


chronic conditions are 

the interaction of biological, psychological, sociocultural and life-cycle forces


most common chronic conditions




Briefly describe the 3 major chronic age-related conditions 

    1. diabetes, cancer, incontinence