Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh

Why Are We Living So Long?
The Importance of Medical Research to Senior Health

According to the World Bank, World Development Indicators, in 2008 the United States average life expectancy was documented to be 78.4 years. That is almost a 10 year difference from 1960 when the average was 69.8 years. As some of the baby boomers begin to enter their senior years, they can expect this number to continue to go up. This is primarily due to the amount of medical research that has been conducted over the years, and the importance of the patients involved.

There are a number of therapeutic areas in which clinical trials are conducted. Among them are Alzheimer’s, diabetes, gout, hypertension, and women’s health. Within each area, trials may be conducted for a number of reasons. Observational and treatment trials are conducted to help researchers better understand the safety and efficacy of new treatments.

Another area of research that has contributed to increasing life expectancy is vaccines. Just last year a new influenza vaccine was approved for those patients ages 60 and over that contains a higher concentration of influenza vaccine per injection. As a person ages their body changes. One of those changes is how their immune system works. The close monitoring of patients through clinical trials has led researchers to find that patients over the age of 60 need a more potent vaccine to help them develop protection against influenza illness.

Through observational clinical trials researchers and physicians have seen how important exercise is for the human body. As we get older it is very important to stay active mentally as well as physically. Developing a plan to exercise everyday has proven benefits for your body. It helps your heart, which needs to be exercised regularly. Walking with a friend, riding a bike, or participating in a game (golf, bowling, or shuffleboard) is a great way to exercise your body as well as being social with friends. Socializing with other seniors or volunteering within your church or community is important for your brain to be challenged and stimulated. Many seniors play cards, work cross word puzzles, play other word games, and play Sudoku. Think of being with family and friends as a health benefit!

Nutrition for seniors is another area where researchers are looking to see how good nutrition can help the body fight off illness. Research has helped us learn that eating 5 small meals a day is more beneficial for the human body than the 3 regular meals we have been brought up with. Eating the right foods can help maintain a healthy weight, and fuel the body so it can work properly.

Alzheimer’s disease affects a number of seniors each year. Clinical trials for new medications have helped gain insight to this disease. Physicians are now able to better diagnose and treat individuals suffering from this disease. Continual clinical research will help us gain a better understanding of the cause, prevention, and treatment of this disease.

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