Can Aging Be Predicted?

A happy elderly couple.
A happy elderly couple. Juanmonino/Getty Images

Though medical science has made great strides in understanding how the body ages, we still have a long way ahead before we fully understand the aging human body. But with the research and understand we do have, can aging be predicted? To answer this question, we must first understand what aging is.

What Is Aging?

Aging is a natural process that all living organisms experience. In many ways, human aging is really just the body's progression through its complete life cycle from birth to death. In that broad sense, aging is the collection of all of the remarkable changes your body experiences over the course of your lifetime.

Most of us think of aging as the physical cosmetic changes we observe in others and ourselves as we grow older. It is easy to associate the development of wrinkles or the appearance of gray hair with aging, but what about the changes in fertility, hearing loss, and even loss of muscle mass and mobility that also appears to accompany age?

The difficulty gerontologists and other medical science professionals face when studying aging is in distinguishing normal human aging from disease. With increased age generally comes an increased vulnerability to disease, but are the chronic diseases we commonly see in the elderly an absolute and characteristic component of aging itself?

Predicting the Aging Process

Though there are statistics available to estimate if and when you might experience certain "symptoms" of aging, there is no way to actually predict how you will age. There are simply too many factors that impact your body and health as you age from genetics to lifestyle to your own health history. Short of consulting a magic crystal ball, no one knows how long you will live or what your older years will look like. While there isn't a way to predict exactly how you will age, you can use get a glimpse into your possible future with longevity and life expectancy calculators.

Longevity and Life Expectancy Calculators

Aging can be partially predicted using longevity and life expectancy calculators in the sense that these tools can use the research and statistics available to estimate how long you might live and your level of risk of certain chronic diseases or other factors that may impact your longevity. What life expectancy and longevity calculators can predict is how long, on average, someone like you will live and how well, on average, someone like you will age in terms of your overall health.

There are many online life expectancy calculator tools and resources available. Though their unique levels of detail and the strength of the underlying research and data varies from tool to tool, many can offer a sense of how well you are living compared to other people your age. If your lifestyle is healthy, you'll score better than average. Conversely, if your lifestyle is unhealthy, your score will be worse than average. No surprises there.

What I find interesting is how much behavior can impact aging. Only 20-30% of your aging depends on genetics or family history (for most people), the rest is up to you and the lifestyle choices you make and the environment in which you live. Some of the best life expectancy calculators provide tips for lifestyle changes that can positively impact your cores and chances of living a longer, healthier life.

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