Is Aging A Disease?

There are compelling numbers to suggest that it is… and that it can be treated

by Carol Marak

Ms. Marak is an Aging Advocate, Columnist, and Editor of She’s earned a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology through the University of Southern California, Davis.

Avid health care readers know that our aging population will consume resources with significant needs due to rampant chronic conditions. In the United States alone, about half of all adults, 117 million people, had one or more chronic health conditions (CDC study 2012.)

And that number continues to climb.

The National Council on Aging says 92% of the older adult population has, at least, one. We know what happens when people live with chronic conditions, they require help with routine activities of daily living. In-home care is not cheap, and as a person grows older, they’ll likely develop additional ailments and diseases that demand more day-to-day help.

Inventing Therapies

That’s why several physicians and researchers band together to prove that aging is a disease. They believe, if they can convince the FDA that an aging body breaks down and produces malfunctioning cells, then they have a chance to invent the needed therapies and drug treatments to slow the damage and mitigate the effects of old age. The kind that lessens the body’s breakdown and collapse.

The group cares less about anti-aging fixes, looking 50 when you’re 65, or even living to 125. Instead, they want to modify the process so that it has a gentler effect on the human body. The brilliant team of doctors and researchers head up the American Federation for Aging Research (

They ask: “What if there was a condition that affected over 40 million* Americans and no one noticed?” (*2013 U.S population of 65+, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
They answer: “There is–It’s called Aging.”

I believe in the mission of, so much so that I took it upon myself to help the researchers prove that aging is a disease, a condition. I dug into the latest studies by the government and universities and here are the stats that demonstrate the evidence:


By 2050, one-fifth of the total U.S. population will be elderly (65 or older), up from 12 percent in 2000 and 8 percent in 1950. The number of people ages 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades, constituting 4 percent of the population by 2050, or 10 times its share in 1950. Congressional Budget Office


Americans who reach age 65 will someday need a high level of help with everyday activities Risks and Financing Research Brief


Have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two. Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year. NCOA


What if there was a condition that affected over 40 million Americans and no one noticed? There is... It’s called Aging

The money our nation spends on health care, yet only 1% of health dollars go to public efforts to improve overall health. NCOA


90% of Americans aged 55+ are at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. Women are more likely than men to develop hypertension, with half of women aged 60+ and 77% of women aged 75+ having this condition. Hypertension affects 64% of men aged 75+. NCOA

$30 Billion

The number our nation spends a year treating older adults for the effects of falls. If we cannot stem the rate of falls, it’s projected that direct treatment costs will reach $59.6 billion by 2020. A quarter of hip fracture patients will be in a nursing home for at least a year, further adding to Medicaid cost. NCOA

1 in 4

The number of older adults experiencing some mental disorder including depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia. It’s expected to double to 15 million by 2030. NCOA

$1 Trillion

The cost of caring for elderly persons with dementia is also predicted to grow substantially in the coming decades, and Alzheimer’s care alone may exceed $1 trillion annually. Congressional Budget Office

$182,000 for Women

The typical American faces long-term care costs in old age averaging $91,000 for men and $182,000 for women—but can be much higher depending on the number of years individuals need high levels of help. Risks and Financing Research Brief

16 Million

It creates an unpredictable financial burden. At the same time, the number of aging Americans with high health and personal needs is projected to grow from 6 million to almost 16 million in the next several decades. Risks and Financing Research Brief

More than Half

Families cover more than half of the total share of long-term care costs through out-of-pocket spending, which can deplete personal savings, retirement accounts, and other assets. Risks and Financing Research Brief


In 2009, about 41% of people aged 65 and over enrolled in Medicare reported a functional limitation. 12% had difficulty performing one or more instrumental activities of daily living (such as meal preparation), but no activities of daily living limitations (such as bathing). Approximately 25% had difficulty with at least one activity of daily living. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

98 Million

The population age 65 and over has increased from 35.9 million in 2003 to 44.7 million in 2013 (a 24.7% increase) and projects to more than double to 98 million in 2060. By 2040, there will be about 82.3 million older persons, over twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 14.1% of the population in the year 2013 but are expected to grow to be 21.7% of the population by 2040. The 85+ population is projected to triple from 6 million in 2013 to 14.6 million in 2040. AoA

4.5 to 1

In 2010, for every 100 people, there were 45 who were younger than age 20 and 22 people aged 65 or older, meaning that there were four and a half workers supporting each older person. As more Baby Boomers turn 65, this ratio is projected to increase dramatically, leaving fewer workers for every older one. 2014 U.S. Census