Future of Aging and history of life expectancy from Aperion Care.

Most people are familiar with historic life-saving inventions like penicillin and seat belts, but it’s difficult to place these things in the long history of human innovation and increased life expectancy. We reviewed research from every field of study and assembled a collection of 50 inventions that have had (or will have) the most definite and dramatic impact on human life expectancy.

Fifty inventions and advancements that form the foundation of modern life expectancy.

All 50 inventions, listed in approximate order of appearance over the past two centuries.

Timeline of inventions that shaped modern life expectancy. From Aperion Care.

The first boom of innovation followed the Industrial Revolution and spanned a strong half-century of legendary invention. The men and women who were pioneers in their fields at this time are responsible for saving literally billions of lives. In the pre-1900s, infection and contamination were among the biggest enemies of a long and healthy life. Major advancements in science and medicine for blood transfusions, pasteurization, antibiotics, and toilets meant that being able to clean, replace, sanitize, destroy, or flush away disease-riddled contaminates skyrocketed the mortality rate across the globe.

The development of synthetic fertilizers in 1909 cleared the way for the massive increase in plant growth and crop production in 1945, also known as the Green Revolution, which transformed the agriculture industry. Also by the mid-20th century, vaccines advanced enough to be made available to the mass public and severely cut down the mortality rate of several diseases, such as measles, tuberculosis, small pox, and rubella.

Instead of wide-sweeping innovations, the second half of the 20th century saw small yet significant steps in many directions, especially in technology tools. Between 1950-2000, inventions such as air conditioning, auto safety enhancements, radiology, pacemakers, and the bifurcated needle—which eliminated smallpox—are estimated to have saved approximately 171 million lives combined.

Some of the most exciting developments are happening in real time. The exponential growth in scientific fields like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology make estimating their positive effects nearly impossible. In other instances, advancements like genetic and brain mapping, self-driving cars, and desalination and renewable energy are still too new to be told but the benefit to human life behind these ideas is extremely promising. For these examples, “lives saved” is expressed as a speculative annual rate we might enjoy once a given technology is fully realized, in the near or distant future. It is simply too soon to tell.

It may be true that innovations of the past can end up hurting us in the present, such as with synthetic fertilizers helping accelerate the current level of environmental strain. However, we know that humans will never stop trying to improve the human experience. As long as there are barriers to having the best, healthiest, longest natural life possible, scientists, inventors, thinkers, and dreamers will continue to work towards breaking those barriers so that we humans can live our best lives.

World Health Organization
Center for Disease Control
Science Heroes

In the millennial world, nothing’s certain, except death, taxes and posting pictures of food on Instagram. Not surprisingly, many 20- and 30-somethings aren’t thinking much about their future, about aging, retirement, and what financial state they’ll be in when they die. So, we gave them a little nudge.

We surveyed 2,000 millennials to understand their attitudes about the future–their individual future, and ours collectively.

Millennials might be labeled as entitled, but apparently they don’t feel entitled to a very long life! Only 30 percent of millennials expect to live to 85-100 years old compared to 43 percent of baby boomers. In fact, millennials think they will live to an average age of 81 while baby boomers expect to live about four years longer, on average. And when it comes to where they’ll be when they die, 41 percent of millennials think they’ll be living in a different state compared with the one they live in now.

What about being selfish? This is the “me” generation, but that stereotype doesn’t quite hold up when the topic of retirement pops up. About 41 percent say that spending time with family will be most important to them during retirement and 56 percent feel they won’t be a burden on other people as they age.

“Idealistic” is another adjective used to describe millennials and it might be accurate in the case of marriage predictions. Eighty-seven percent of millennials believe they’ll only be married once. Unfortunately, that’s probably wishful thinking. The average divorce rate in the U.S. is between 40 and 50 percent.

In terms of finances, almost 60 percent of millennials are saving money for retirement and 84 percent have saved under $50,000. But some might be in for a rude awakening once they retire. As many as 34 percent of millennials believe they only need $200,000 or less to retire comfortably. The reality, however, is they need much more. According to AARP, in order to live off of $40,000 a year, a retiree needs to save about $1.18 million for a 30-year retirement.

When asked about predictions on global politics and economics, millennials paint a less-than-ideal picture. Blame it on growing up during the Great Recession and with the threat of terrorism, but a majority of millennials aren’t optimistic about achieving world peace or financial stability. A whopping 79 percent think they’ll live through another major economic depression and 60 percent think World War III will occur in their lifetime. Let’s hope they’re wrong!

Most people spend the bulk of their adult years in the workforce so retirement represents freedom and rest. We researched the official retirement ages for people around the world and noted in some featured countries what retirement policies are in practice, and what they mean for the future. Click around the interactive graphic to see how the world’s workforce views retirement.

While most countries hover around the 62-65 age range, there are a handful of countries that plan for workers to leave the workforce even earlier. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts the lowest official retirement age at 49 years old, though the age is 60 for expats (non-UAE nationals). The retirement age has increased steadily in the past decade from age 40 in 2007 and is expected to climb to 50 this year for UAE nationals. While there is little data on UAE nationals who are retired, there’s evidence that UAE expats try to stay in the UAE after retirement, even though certain policies prohibit it. Many expat retirees find loopholes to avoid having to leave.

China has the second lowest age for retirement, with the average age 56.25. Because 15% of the total population is of retirement age or above, there are rumors of changing the age to help combat the effects of an unbalanced labor population.

The African continent hosts several countries that have low retirement ages. Senegal, Mozambique, and Madagascar are the lowest at 57.5, while most hover around 58-60 years of age, such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.  There isn’t much information about social services, government programs, or workforce stats but considering so much of workforce is involved in agriculture and labor, over time, a person’s ability to work is affected by the physical toll it takes on their body, and earlier retirement might be necessary.

Other countries, like Russia, Japan, and India, have retirement ages closer to 60, and with large populations of older or retired people. Family obligations, limited opportunity, and rampant poverty keep these large older populations from traveling away and keep them in the workforce longer to be able to make a living.

Some countries expect to work later into their years. In Norway, 67 has been the official retirement age since the 1970s and there currently are no serious proposals to raise the retirement age. In 2011, Norway established “flexible retirement” for earnings-related pensions, meaning that Norwegians can draw pensions as early as age 62. Some social science data suggests that Norwegians preferred to retire at 61, then the age rose to 64 in 2013.

Many retirees choose to spend their golden years living abroad, if possible, with the US, Spain, and warmer climates as popular destinations. With among the higher official retirement ages, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal are probably not top destinations for retired expats, because they might have to come out of retirement to live there.

To learn about assisted living services, click here.


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When English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, “Time and tide wait for no man,” he lived during the Middle Ages. Back then, life expectancy was 45 years old, thanks to disease, like the bubonic plague, and low infant mortality rates. With the vast, modern improvements in healthcare, hygiene, and diet, populations today can expect long, healthy life spans. But living longer has an impact elsewhere, including on the economy and division of labor and care. Check out the infographic below to see where older populations are increasing and how they’re affecting the economy.

Aging Populations

In 2012, the global population reached 7 billion, with 8% of those people aged 65 and over; by 2015, the older population rose by 55 million. This means that over 8% of the population is considered not part of the workforce, so fewer taxes are collected and there are fewer contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Aging populations also mean more dependency on basic and social services, such as healthcare, affordable food, and appropriate housing. With finite resources, many countries are feeling squeezed.

According to the graphic, the older population is projected to double to 1.6 billion globally from 2025 to 2050, however, the total population will grow by just 34% over the same period. This means that the balance between those who are able to contribute to a country’s economy and be in good enough health to not rely as heavily on social services will not grow at the same rate as the older generations, leaving an imbalance of resources available.

Adding to the disparity is the question of who will care for and attend to the aging populations. Many middle-age adults find themselves stuck between caring for their children while simultaneously caring for their parents or elderly relatives. Some countries have a worrying outlook for the number of people available to care for the aging population.

In 2015, Japan had the highest ratio of aging population, where 30% or more were 60 years or older. By 2050, the number of countries expected to meet that 30% ratio will balloon to include Canada, nearly all of Europe, much of Asia, and parts of South America. Countries, like Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Poland, and Canada, with the least amount of younger generations, face a difficult task of figuring out how to maintain a balance between providing for new generations and taking care of older generations.

Chaucer’s original thought rings true for today’s countries: Time does not wait. As populations around the world continue to grow, so must the options and resources available to maintain healthy, prosperous economies and lifestyles. It is the legacy of each generation to figure out how to care for the previous and set up the next population for success.