Minggu, 19 Juli 2009

Aging: An Introduction


When talking about aging, we could not avoid thinking about life expectancy. In a demographic trend, the precise term would be "Life Expectancy at Birth (years)". The term indicates the average living years of the people in a certain nation. Looking at the demographic trend, we could not help but compare the lower life expectancy of people in developing countries to the higher in developed countries.

Based on the Human Development Report by the UNDP (2005), the life expectancy at birth of people in Japan is 82 years, followed by Switzerland (80.5 years), Singapore (78.7 years), and US of A (77.4 years). Those are only a few countries with high life expectancy at birth. Compare those numbers to the life expectancy in Kenya, where the life expectancy of women only reaches 51 years and men 50 years.

When faced with these hard facts, we must ask ourselves "Why?"

The immediate answer would be "Because." Of course, that does not help a bit. The truth is that there are certain factors which cause some people to live longer and others to live, well, not so long. None of those factors coincides with fate in the biblical sense. If you are pagan, life expectancy has nothing to do with Clotho, Lachesis, and Apropos.

One important factor would be health. Without further explanation, people with good health should be able to live longer, barring accidents and bad luck. So there is something we can actually do to get a few additional years. We only have to keep health and keep functioning as we grow old.

Easier said than done.