For people 65 and up, independent, disability-free years rose not only among healthy seniors, but those living with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and vision and hearing problems. Experts called the findings - published in the Journal PLOS Medicine - good news.
While the study was done in Britain, its findings mimic research in America. "There tends to be a doom-and-gloom view of aging," one researcher said, "But there's never been a better time to be an older person."
Researchers believe that improved treatments for physical health conditions likely help explain the current findings -- especially for stroke. Advances in treating strokes in progress can limit the brain damage, and subsequent disability, they cause. The decline in smoking as another factor, as well as improvements in blood pressure control and a drop in hip fractures -- a major cause of death and disability among the elderly.