Life Expectancy in the U.S. Continues to Decline
The health of Americans has been declining for the past two decades. The United States is one of the wealthiest and prosperous countries in the world, however, the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows a sharp decline in life expectancy to 76.4 years, the same as in 1996. In 2019 life expectancy was 79 years but it fell to 77 years in 2020 and again in 2021 to 76.4 years. What's more, the loss of life was more staggering for Black Americans who lost four years of life expectancy and Indigenous Americans who lost more six years.
Covid, social, economic and behavioral factors, and lifestyle choices are just a few reasons listed in the report.
The social and economical conditions in which people live and the policies that shape their living conditions greatly affect health and longevity. Social factors such as education, employment, transportation, housing, income, access to parks and recreations, impact life expectancy.
Our health is shaped by our living conditions, jobs, wages, education, wealth , relationships and access to care. We need fundamental changes in how we live, work, and engage with one another. We must prioritize wellness and health if we want to live and enjoy healthier lives and our kids to live longer.
More than half of the top ten causes of death are due to behavioral and other preventable causes such as poor diet, lack of exercise, tobacco, obesity, stress, and high blood pressure. High levels of income inequality also affect premature death.
What can we do? We have to call on our policymakers to rewrite the policy choices. We need new health policies based on evidence. We need to invest in high quality education, design healthy environments, and close the inequality gap. And we need to prioritize wellness and health.
Call To Action
While our elected officials rewrite the health policy manual let's work together to reverse the low life expectancy with these 14 strategies:
Prioritize health, and well-being. Design your life around goals that will allow you to make progress towards health, wellbeing, success and happiness. It may not be easy but try to do the best you can to improve the quality of your life. Preventive care is better than healthcare.
Mindset - What you think you become. Change your perspective on how you see yourself and the world. Take your power back, build resilience by taking on challenges, which increase confidence, courage, and self-worth.
Education - reading opens up new worlds for you. New opportunities, ways of thinking, living, and engaging with the world. Books are free online if you cannot buy them. Read or listen to audiobooks every day, in the morning and evening. Feed your mind and soul with content that makes you happy, and eager to go out there and make things happen.
Work - seek to increase your value at work, apply for a better job if possible or plan for it, sign up for a class to learn a new skill, go back to school and get a degree or certificate, take a career assessment online to find your strengths and interests. With a better job comes a higher salary, which will allow you to live in a better "zip code' with access to resources for you and your family.
Get off social media or at least be aware of your time spent on it. Ask questions such as what is the value I am getting back from spending time on social media. Time is priceless and we cannot take it back. We need to be intentional about how we spend our limited time.
Exercise - Create a consistent workout routine and stick with it. Make sure it is a combination of cardio and strengths training. Keep your heart and body/mind healthy and strong. The top leading cause of death is heart disease.
Habits - replace negative habits that prevent you from achieving success. Replace I can't with I can, and I don't know it yet but I will learn it. Start small, one step at the time. You don't want to create more stress and anxiety. Change one small negative habit at the time.
Perspective is reality - change it if it doesn’t suit you. We often see the world as we are not as it is. Don't hold on to old beliefs that prevent you from being your best self.
Gratitude - try to see the good in every person and situation. It will improve your mood and attract better people and opportunities and you'll live longer.
Mindfulness meditation - give it a try. I guarantee you it will change your life for the better if you give it a try. Even 1 minute a day. Meditation is associated with many health benefits including long life expectancy.
Relationships - assess the people in your life - are they positive and supportive of your new life and dreams? We are influenced by the people we associate with so pay attention to whom you allow in your life.
Skills - assess your skills. Do you need better communication skills or cooking skills? You can learn any skill so no one is stopping you but yourself.
Get help - mentor, a coach, support group. Look for people who achieved what you aspire to achieve and become.
Last - put in the work. There's no shortcut to success and happiness. Get up earlier, work harder than yesterday. Be responsible 100%. Take one step at the time. Trust the process. It is a journey.
These strategies will help you to cultivate a happy, healthy and long life. Together we can do it.
Good luck and best wishes.
Now is the perfect time to plan your new year and set your big healthy goals.
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What do you think of this article? Are you surprised by the new data on life expectancy?