GREYING POPULATION STAYS IN THE PINK
Elderly people are growing healthier, happier and more independent, say American scientists. The results of a 14-year study to be announced later this month reveal that the diseases associated with old age are afflicting fewer and fewer people and when they do strike, it is much later in life.
In the last 14 years, the National Long-term Health Care Survey has gathered data on the health and lifestyles of more than 20,000 men and women over 65. Researchers, now analysing the results of data gathered in 1994, say arthritis, high blood pressure and circulation problems — the major medical complaints in this age group — are troubling a smaller proportion every year. And the data confirms that the rate at which these diseases are declining continues to accelerate. Other diseases of old age — dementia, stroke, arteriosclerosis and emphysema — are also troubling fewer and fewer people.
‘It really raises the question of what should be considered normal ageing,’ says Kenneth Manton, a demographer from Duke University in North Carolina. He says the problems doctors accepted as normal in a 65-year-old in 1982 are often not appearing until people are 70 or 75.
Clearly, certain diseases are beating a retreat in the face of medical advances. But there may be other contributing factors. Improvements in childhood nutrition in the first quarter of the twentieth century, for example, gave today’s elderly people a better start in life than their predecessors.
On the downside, the data also reveals failures in public health that have caused surges in some illnesses. An increase in some cancers and bronchitis may reflect changing smoking habits and poorer air quality, say the researchers. ‘These may be subtle influences,’ says Manton, ‘but our subjects have been exposed to worse and worse pollution for over 60 years. It’s not surprising we see some effect."
One interesting correlation Manton uncovered is that better-educated people are likely to live longer. For example, 65-year-old women with fewer than eight years of schooling are expected, on average, to live to 82. Those who continued their education live an extra seven years. Although some of this can be attributed to a higher income, Manton believes it is mainly because educated people seek more medical attention.
The survey also assessed how independent people over 65 were, and again found a striking trend. Almost 80% of those in the 1994 survey could complete everyday activities ranging from eating and dressing unaided to complex tasks such as cooking and managing their finances. That represents a significant drop in the number of disabled old people in the population. If the trends apparent in the United States 14 years ago had continued, researchers calculate there would be an additional one million disabled elderly people in today’s population. According to Manton, slowing the trend has saved the United States government’s Medicare system more than $200 billion, suggesting that the greying of America’s population may prove less of a financial burden than expected.
The increasing self-reliance of many elderly people is probably linked to a massive increase in the use of simple home medical aids. For instance, the use of raised toilet seats has more than doubled since the start of the study, and the use of bath seats has grown by more than 50%. These developments also bring some health benefits, according to a report from the MacArthur Foundation’s research group on successful ageing. The group found that those elderly people who were able to retain a sense of independence were more likely to stay healthy in old age.
Maintaining a level of daily physical activity may help mental functioning, says Carl Cotman, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine. He found that rats that exercise on a treadmill have raised levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor coursing through their brains. Cotman believes this hormone, which keeps neurons functioning, may prevent the brains of active humans from deteriorating.
As part of the same study, Teresa Seeman, a social epidemiologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, found a connection between self-esteem and stress in people over 70. In laboratory simulations of challenging activities such as driving, those who felt in control of their lives pumped out lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Chronically high levels of these hormones have been linked to heart disease.
But independence can have drawbacks. Seeman found that elderly people who felt emotionally isolated maintained higher levels of stress hormones even when asleep. The research suggests that older people fare best when they feel independent but know they can get help when they need it.
‘Like much research into ageing, these results support common sense,’ says Seeman. They also show that we may be underestimating the impact of these simple factors. ‘The sort of thing that your grandmother always told you turns out to be right on target,’ she says.
Complete the summary using the list of words, A-Q, below.
Write the correct letter, A-Q in boxes 14-22 on your answer sheet.
Research carried out by scientists in the United States has shown that the proportion of people over 65 suffering from the most common age-related medical problems is 14 ..............and that the speed of this change is 15.............. . It also seems that these diseases are affecting people 16.............. in life than they did in the past. This is largely due to developments in 17.............., but other factors such as improved 18.............. may also be playing a part. Increases in some other illnesses may be due to changes in personal habits and to 19.............. . The research establishes a link between levels of 20.............. and life expectancy. It also shows that there has been a considerable reduction in the number of elderly people who are 21.............., which means that the 22.............. involved in supporting this section of the population may be less than previously predicted.
A cost B falling C technology
D undernourished E earlier F later
G disabled H more I increasing
J nutrition K education L constant
M medicine N pollution O environmental
P health Q independent
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-H, below.
Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet.
23 Home medical aids
24 Regular amounts of exercise
25 Feelings of control over life
26 Feelings of loneliness
A may cause heart disease.
B can be helped by hormone treatment.
C may cause rises in levels of stress hormones.
D have cost the United States government more than $200 billion.
E may help prevent mental decline.
F may get stronger at night.
G allow old people to be more independent.
H can reduce stress in difficult situations.
关键词：proportion/people over 65/age-related medical problems
定位原文: 第2段第2句“...are troubling a smaller proportion…”
解题思路: smaller 和falling 是隐晦的同义表达，B选项符合题意。
定位原文: 第2段倒数第2句“the rate at which these diseases…”
定位原文: 第3段第2句“He says…”
解题思路: 第3段中提到the problems doctors accepted as normal in a 65-year-oId in 1982 are often not appearing until people are 70 or 75，第二段提到数据是1994年采集的，所以1982代表了the past，疾病由65岁推迟到70或者75 岁才发作，显然是later。
关键词：due to developments
定位原文: 第4段第1句“…certain diseases are beating…”
解题思路: 第四段开头提到certain diseases are beating a retreat in the face of medical advances，表明有些疾病是被医药进步打败的。advances和developments属于同义表达，medical和medicine是同源词。
定位原文: 第4段第2、3句“…there may be other contributing factors. Improvements…”
定位原文: 第5段第2、3句“… poorer air quality/ worse and worse pollution…”
解题思路: 第五段提到An increase in some cancers and bronchitis may reflect changing smoking habits and poorer air quality...和....been exposed to worse and worse pollution, changes in personal habits与 changing smoking habits相对应。所以原文提供的另一因素poorer air quality就是与答案相关的内容。正确答案是N。
定位原文: 第6段第1句“One interesting…”
解题思路: 第6段第1句中的correlation和live longer分别对应题干中的link和life expectancy，所以原文的better-educated就是答案的原形，被选项中只有K项的education与此相符。正确答案是K。
定位原文: 第7段第3句“That represents…”
解题思路: considerable与significant、reduction与 drop分别为近义词，再根据第七段中a significant drop in the number of disabled old people，答案应为disabled。正确答案是G。
定位原文: 第7段最后一句“… less of a financial burden…”
解题思路: predicted与expected为同义表达，只需找 financial burden的同义表达就可以。正确答案是A。
关键词：home medical aids
定位原文: 第8段第1句“The increasing…”
关键词：regular amounts of exercise
定位原文: 第9段第1句“…daily physical activity…”
解题思路: exercise 与physical activity 属于同义表达，regular与daily 属于同义表达，所以选E。
关键词：feelings of control over life
定位原文: 第10段倒数第2句“…felt in control of their lives…”
解题思路: 根据第10段中 challenging activities和 those who felt in control of their lives pumped out lower levels of stress hormone, challenging activities 与 difficult situations 属于同义表达，lower levels of stress hormones自然压力就小。正确答案是H。
关键词： feelings of loneliness
定位原文: 第11段第2句“…emotionally isolated…”
解题思路: feelings of loneliness 与emotionally isolated 属于同义表达，所以选C。