Is Life Expectancy Shrinking for Working-Age Adults?

There was a time during the 1800’s when life expectancy for the average adult was relatively short. It wasn’t at all uncommon to see people living into their mid-forties and then passing away. There were several reasons for this, not the least of which involved the fact that life was difficult in many aspects. Modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing did not exist for all intents and purposes. People had to work exceptionally long hours and the work they did was backbreaking. Furthermore, there wasn’t access to state-of-the-art medical care in most cases and even when there was, that medical care was still very primitive by today’s standards. If someone developed a serious illness like heart disease or cancer, there wasn’t much to be done for them with the exception of trying to make them as comfortable as possible for as long as they managed to survive.

As time progressed, things changed for the better. People started to live longer and longer, some of them living well into their nineties. A few even made it past the century mark. It wasn’t uncommon to see people living into their seventies or eighties, long enough to enjoy retirement and then some. However, there is a rather alarming trend that’s going on today and it involves the fact that the lifespan of most working-class adults is getting shorter and shorter. In fact, it’s reverting back to becoming commonplace to see people struck down during what many consider the prime of their life. Some people are dying in their forties but most are passing away in their fifties or sixties. This might be an improvement over the way things were more than 100 years ago, but it definitely isn’t an improvement over the way things have been in more recent decades. The question is, why is this happening now?

Increased stress levels

One of the foremost reasons that people believe this is happening is because individuals tend to lead more stressful lives now than they ever have in the past. This is a world where information is available at the drop of a hat and it comes in so fast that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything. Despite that fact, most individuals feel like it’s their duty to keep up with everything from professional and personal obligations to having a family and even maintaining a regular presence on social media, even to the point of staying up half the night in order to get it all done. This creates a dangerous situation because it’s a given that stress levels are going to go up when a person has a schedule that’s roughly twice as busy as it probably should be. All of the stress causes increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline to be pumped into the bloodstream on an almost continuous basis. This in turn means that the body is constantly fighting these hormones which causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. When this is an everyday occurrence, it can do damage do the walls of the arteries and even the heart itself, often leading to premature death due to heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease. It’s also believed that increased stress levels increases one’s risk of developing cancer, largely because those same hormones cause an increase in inflammation and oxidative stress at the cellular level, increasing the chances that mutations in the cells will occur.

Lack of Proper Rest

The thing that automatically goes with having a schedule that’s far too busy is a distinct lack of time to get adequate rest. The human body was simply not designed to operate on two or three hours of sleep a night, night after night. Sure, some people can get away with that for a night or two on occasion, but when it becomes commonplace it’s unhealthy. It becomes easier to forget things and people grow more irritable with each passing day. Stress on the heart is increased and the immune system drops off, making it far more likely that an individual will develop anything from the common cold pneumonia. Furthermore, when a disease does come around, it’s less likely that the person in question will be able to successfully fight it off because the immune system was depleted to begin with, leaving nothing in reserve.

Problems With Health Insurance

Fortunately, this isn’t a problem in every country throughout the world but in the United States, many people are not getting access to state-of-the-art medical care they need to successfully combat certain diseases and it’s all thanks to the broken medical care system in the country. Only those who are already fairly well-off can typically afford health insurance, leaving everyone else out in the cold. It makes it extremely hard to get access to good medical care and many people become so frustrated that they stop trying altogether. This means that diseases that might otherwise be treatable in earlier stages often go untreated until they become deadly. It’s incredibly unfortunate that individuals who could potentially live long and healthy lives end up having those lives cut short by an issue such as this, but that is the reality many individuals are facing today.

Obviously, these aren’t the only reasons that life expectancy is now growing shorter for working-class adults but they are some of the main reasons. One other interesting reason of note is that diseases themselves are changing. Many types of diseases are mutating and infecting humans with super bugs that simply didn’t exist two or three decades ago. The truth is, new diseases are popping up all the time that are baffling scientists and some of them are extremely deadly. The change in the environment is so rapid that diseases that didn’t exist six months ago may be killing dozens of people in no time at all. When you couple that with the idea that so many people have decided to stop vaccinating their children, it only stands to reason that more and more people are dying far before they probably should. Unfortunately, it marks an alarming trend, one that could become a true epidemic if things aren’t done to change the course of action sooner rather than later.