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Life Expectancy at Age 65

There have been moments – fleeting, I will admit – when I have wished I knew when I will die. The key word in that sentence is “fleeting” - a momentary lapse in sanity while contemplating end-of-life choices and the difficulty of planning anything without an expiration date.

I'm guessing most people don't even experience that minor lapse, that few are interested in knowing when their lives end.

Last month, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a state-specific report on healthy life expectancy for people age 65 between the years of 2007 and 2009. The agency describes life expectancy as the

“average remaining years of life a person can expect to live on the basis of the current mortality rates for the population.”

Here is a map ranking the states by such life expectancy. (Click map for larger version)

There is a wide variance in years between the state with the longest post-65 healthy life expectancy and the shortest. Hawaii's, at 16.2 years, is the longest compared to the shortest in Mississippi – 10.8 years.

Note that these statistics are for healthy life expectancy which is what the CDC was concerned in this report. Life expectancy without regard for health is 21.3 years in Hawaii and 17.5 in Mississippi.

You can check out your state in a chart at the CDC (scroll about halfway down the page).

There are also differences between the sexes and races along the lines you would expect. Women's life expectancy is longer than men's by about three years in every state.

Data on age at death for blacks is missing in some states so a national average is difficult. The largest difference in healthy life expectancy between whites and blacks, reports the CDC, is 7.8 years in Iowa.

According to the CDC, among the important factors that influence a person's health as they get older are

  1. Safe and healthy living environments
  2. Healthy behaviors (e.g., exercise and not smoking)
  3. Getting the recommended clinical preventive services (e.g., vaccines, cancer screenings, and blood pressure checks)
  4. Having access to good quality health care when it is needed

That last one is tricky if you assume – as I do – that good quality health care throughout one's life contributes to healthy longevity.

Of course you noticed in that map above that the states with the lowest healthy life expectancy are the poorest which gives increased meaning to getting Obamacare implemented so that millions more can afford to see a doctor.

My state, Oregon, is among the longest lived but I question how useful the information is by state when I've lived here for about three years, spent four years before this in Maine and a previous 40 years in New York.

Nevertheless, most of us like statistics and at the ages of most of us at this blog, we are more concerned with this particular statistic than many younger people. If I go with the Oregon number, I've got eight more years of healthy life and six months fewer if I use the New York number.

You can get more information, see some other charts and read all the exceptions, limitations and qualifications at the CDC report.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: The State of Relationships


I don't like not knowing my "expiration date" either, but I do know some of the factors that might contribute to either shortening or lengthening my life. I know that better access to health care has made a huge difference. If I still lived in New Jersey, the pace and the lack of healthy food choices wouldn't be the only thing that would be killing me. It would also be a lack of health care.

Knowing that my remaining days are growing short just makes them sweeter.

Interesting that diet wasn't specifically mentioned under the 'healthy behaviors'. I think it's a critical element, along with exercise and not smoking!

Living in the South and according to this chart I have already used my healthy years. But fortunate that I was fine until 75. Guess I have been lucky but
now some health issues that I do not like. Have always had a good diet, exercise, no smoking but think stress, nonstop activity and the awful divorce probably did not help my health.
Now diagnosed with Sjogrens
and continual inflammatory
issues. Aware it could be much worse. Just sharing about the last 3 years.

I have already exceeded my 14.1 years and have no idea about how much longer I can expect to live. Nor do I want to know.

As long as I can get up in the morning, dress myself, fix my own breakfast and find worthy things to do during the day I want to keep living. Should any of that stop it will be time to bid adieu to this wonderful earth that has provided a life for me for there 88 years.

I don't want to know my expiration date, but I suspect that my numbers for remaining healthy years are lower than those listed for my state since I had a hemorrhagic stroke in 2011 at age 64.

That I am in those "later" years occasionally bothers me, as does the change post-stroke from active, physically fit Nana to the grandmother who struggles to keep her balance and involve her left arm when giving or receiving hugs.

Life is still full of joys. I thank God for those praying for me or sending positive thoughts my way.

I suspect it's not where you live, but how you live, that makes the biggest difference.

I agree with Alice that eating a healthful diet might have been mentioned as one of the "healthy behaviors."

Perhaps it wasn't included because measuring diet is difficult, and many people under-estimate how much they really eat.

Still it's well known that eating healthy has many benefits and should be part of taking care of one's health at any age.

I agree with Ernestine about the stress factor. I am convinced that some day when the picture becomes more clear, that, other than dread diseases like the plague and killer influenzas, etc., stress, and its effects on telomeres, will prove to be the most significant factor determining the length of life. Its also interesting that gap in the number of years of life expectancy post-65 between the rich and poor shrinks from 5+ to less than 4 when health declines.

It would be much easier to estimate how much money I need to set by for my "old age" if I knew how long I would live. Can I buy this stack of books or should I use the library and save the money because I will be here another 25 years? If I knew I would only be here another 4 years, for example, I'd buy stuff, takes trips etc.

Like you, my first question is always how they weigh years of residency in a given state. Sure, I've lived in Colorado for eight years, but most of my years before that were in Oklahoma. Big difference between the two. And my state of residency hasn't had much affect on my lifestyle.

Don't like that "healthy" life expectancy. It looks like we can all expect 6-7 "unhealthy" years after that. Oh, goodie.

Interesting. I was born and raised in the NW green zone and that's a favorable factor. I suspect genetics contributes too, both my grandmas made it to their mid-eighties, one in very bad health from a car accident in her 50's. I do have some lung disease but my pulmonologist said he thought I'd make to 90 anyway, maybe on oxygen but who knows? Many of the women in my family had asthma and type 2 diabetes and still made it to nearly 90, except one who lived to be 101. All I could think of was "O' God, I'm going to outlast my money!" I am such an ingrate.

The way I handle it, is make an educated guesstimate of how many good years I have left, and plan to achieve my goals within that time.

I live in Alabama, and can attest to the somewhat accuracy of the stats for my state.

Both my mother & mother-in-law died in their late 70s. My stepdad, my uncles, many too numerous to list...late 70s.

On the other hand, my grandparents lived into their late 80s, on grandmother to 92.

I attribute some of this to diet and exercise; my parents didn't eat right, too much take-out and fatty fried foods, little to no exercise.

While my grandparents ate food from their farms, preserving food and raising their own cows/pigs/chickens, not to mention hard work (exercise).

Maybe what we're getting from grocery stores (lots of antibiotic-laden meats) and fast foods are partly responsible for longevity rates? And very little exercise coupled with unrelenting stress certainly paints a better picture.

According to those stats, at 61 I probably only have 10-16 years left.

Just turning age 65 in July, this post caught my eye. So in GA on average I will have 13 more healthy years to live. Kind of shocking when you really think about it.

Well I need to step up my cruise planning a little from one a year to maybe 2 at least. Need to start downsizing and checking out the senior communities. lol.

I'm terrified of being old and poor. I have a home that I can sell but I will still need a place to live. But I didn't save enough and I'll run out of money when I'm 75 and my only income will be social security. So I would like to do myself in at 75 but that is really depressing as I suspect I'll be in good health.

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