Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Photo of Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Healthy After 65

Today’s post is a short one and focuses on a new CDC report on healthy life expectancy (HLE) at age 65.  This differs from total life expectancy (LE) and is a measure of how long the average person can expect to life in reasonably good health after they hit 65.  It is important because data like this can help individuals, families, governments, and other organizations think about health and other services that older people will need over time.   The figure below shows estimates based on 2007-2009 data.   For those who want to take a deeper dive, the report is full of all sorts of information on the effects of sex, state, and race on healthy life expectancy.   In general women do better than men; there is substantial regional variation with issues in the South especially and blacks do worse than whites.


Here is the bottom line from the CDC report:

“For the total population at age 65 years, HLE was lowest among southern states. For all persons at age 65 years, the highest HLE was observed in Hawaii (16.2 years) and the lowest was in Mississippi (10.8 years). During 2007–2009, HLE as a percentage of LE for persons at age 65 years for the total U.S. population ranged from a low of 61.5% in Mississippi to a high of 78.2% in Vermont (Table). Conversely, the number of remaining years in fair or poor health for persons aged 65 years was 6.7 out of 17.5 years of LE for those living in Mississippi and 4.2 years out of 19.4 years for those living in Vermont.”


My bottom line is that this regional and other differences noted in the report are not going to be solved by medical care alone and that some areas of the country need aggressive public health interventions to catch up.  These topics have been covered many times in earlier posts on life expectancy.





One Response to “Healthy After 65”

  1. October 9th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Andrea says:

    Eesh. I wonder how much of a difference in “good stuff” it would make to raise the percentage of HLE/LE dramatically. 62%? 78%? BOTH are far too low.

    What about a goal of 99%? You do your thing until you don’t and you die. Simple. I mean, it sounds simple. It sounds desireable.

    Just musing. Interesting stuff…. and thanks.

Leave a Reply