Americans are living longer than ever – and that’s something to be thankful for. As Time points out, our oldest population is getting older as well.
“Nearly 2 million now are 90 or over, nearly triple their numbers of just three decades ago. … Joined by graying baby boomers, the oldest old are projected to increase from 1.9 million to 8.7 million by midcentury — making up 2 percent of the total U.S. population and one in 10 older Americans. That’s a big change from over a century ago, when fewer than 100,000 people reached 90,” Time’s Healthland blog reports. Thanks only go so far, however. Improving the quality of life of these aging Americans is one of the greatest struggles our nation faces, and achieving that goal will require a concerted effort on behalf of the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. New drugs can help the elderly live happier and healthier lives – assuming they ever make it out to the market. To that end, the Accelerate Cure/Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (ACT-AD), a coalition of nonprofits chaired by the Alliance for Aging Research, has pushed to accelerate development of potential cures and treatments to slow, halt or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The sooner we can more effectively treat Alzheimer’s (and other aging-related diseases), the sooner we can help people live longer, and most importantly, healthier lives. So yes, we’re thankful that our parents and grandparents are living longer lives. But we’ll be even more thankful when we can see them living fulfilling, healthier and more abled lives as well.