The Alarming Decline In Life Expectancy For Young Americans - Is There Hope?

May 31, 2023

For the first time in nearly 10 years, the life expectancy in the U.S. is declining. This comes as a surprise on multiple levels. A thriving, advancing society should expect a continual rise in life expectancy year after year. From a technology and medical standpoint, we’ve never been more advanced, so the reason must run deeper than that. Here are 5 reasons our life expectancy (and quality of life) is declining.


5 Reasons Why Life Is Declining

To find out why the national life expectancy is declining, many researchers have ramped up studies to explore the topic. After all, Americans, especially young Americans, experiencing higher mortality rates and an increasingly poorer quality of life is an alarming trend that’s well worth getting to the bottom of. Here are the main findings from these studies.


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🛋 Chronic Lifestyle Diseases

Chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes have plagued the U.S. at an increasing rate over the last century, and especially over the last 50 or so years. These diseases are all in the top ten causes of death in the U.S., with heart disease and cancer leading the way.

So why the uptick in these diseases over the past few decades? Again, our technology and the healthcare system are only becoming more advanced, so why the decline in life?

Poorer lifestyle choices appear to be the culprit. Eating ultra processed foods, falling into sedentary behavior, and perpetuating poor sleep and relational habits are just a few key areas where we’re missing the mark. Simple things like eating food that supports your body's systems, staying active, getting a good night’s sleep, and investing in healthy relationships and community can all be massive deterrents to these kinds of diseases. And prevention really is the goal here. These diseases are often incredibly challenging to treat, and though the healthcare system has gotten better at keeping us alive after an encounter with one of these diseases, it can’t erase the long-term damage these diseases inflict.


 💊 Drug Abuse

It comes as no surprise that drugs made this list. We’re all aware of the effects drugs have had on our communities. Drug overdoses, drug addiction, and the run to drugs as a form of escapism instead of turning to healthier coping mechanisms like family, community or spirituality are all negative effects related to drugs.

Though drugs in the traditional sense and the underlying reasons people use them are certainly a huge part of the larger problem, prescription and over the counter drugs are also part of the problem.

Ever since the early 1900s, the philosophy of a pill for an ill has only gained momentum. Now, prescribing drugs to manage symptoms is the most common way doctors address our ailments. And we’ve adopted this philosophy for ourselves in the way we approach our own health. The problem is, because this approach doesn’t deal with the root cause, taking these drugs leads to more issues down the road, eroding our health and leaving us more vulnerable to disease than before. We might feel better in the moment, but our life expectancy and quality of life are taking the hit in the long-term.

Overmedicating has also become an issue as we take pills by the handful to help ease a vast array of often preventable ailments.


🏥 A Failing Health Care System 

Healthcare has experienced incredible advancements over the past century. We can now deal with nearly any kind of injury if we catch it in time.

However, with the shift to a more industrialized approach to healthcare during the last century, health is now treated like a business. This can lead to dangerous decisions on the part of medical professionals. Decisions like urging more expensive, invasive procedures when cheaper ones would be just as effective, overmedicating, and turning a blind eye on prevention since it doesn’t make the industry any money.

The shift to viewing medical professionals as the only ones who can make health decisions for us has also contributed to many of our current health issues. The problem with this is that most professionals today are only trained to save lives, not help you support a healthy, more prevention focused lifestyle. By abdicating our responsibilities to manage our own health, our only option is to go to these professionals once we break. And of course we break fairly often since we’re not supporting, and are often sabotaging, our body’s natural ability to protect and heal itself.


😞 Lack Of Purpose

A rise in escapism in the form of both workaholism and digital entertainment like TV shows and video games showcases the increasing lack of purpose among young Americans. This trend appears to be stemming from a more self-focused definition of happiness that has become more accepted in our society.

This lack of purpose has led to less meaning, a poorer quality of life, and even death in the form of suicide. The suicide rate among young Americans has never been this high. This is a troubling trend that should cause us all to pause.


 🤰🏻Infertility And Lack Of Family Connection

Finally, significant challenges related to the family unit have also caused their own set of issues. For one, infertility is on the rise. There are many possible reasons for this, including poor diet, toxins and pollutants, and stress, but the reality remains that more and more couples who are trying to have children are struggling to do so. This obstacle to life is a troubling development.

Family connections are also suffering. There are many reasons for this as well. One factor is the rise of individualism and consumer culture. In today’s society, people are encouraged to focus on their own needs and desires, rather than the needs of their family or community. This can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection from others.

Tying into this, social media and electronic devices, though making it easier to connect with others, can also distract us from meaningful face-to-face interactions with our loved ones.

Changes in the workplace have also played a role. In the past, families often worked together on farms or in small businesses, which created a strong sense of interdependence and community. Today, many families are dispersed across the country and work long hours in jobs that are often stressful and demanding. This can lead to a lack of time and energy for nurturing family relationships.


How To Reverse Life Span Decline And Restore Hope

To really address this issue, here are two steps to consider.


Lifestyle Medicine: Have A Whole Life Approach To Health ☀️

If you break down life to its foundations, there are five main areas. We call these the Five Foundations. They are Life, Family, Move, Fuel, and Care. Taking small steps in each of these areas will have a massive effect on your overall health since these areas are the building blocks of life, and are all interconnected.

Family and Life are the priorities, and movement, fuel for our bodies, and how we care for ourselves are the supporting areas that make pursuing those priorities possible.

The goal is to find a balance in all five areas. When you do, life starts working better than it ever has. We’re all about supporting these areas so you can improve not only your own quality of life and life expectancy, but those of future generations.


Restore a sense of purpose to the next generation 🕊

One of the best ways to kindle a sense of purpose in someone is to help them find out how they can make a contribution. No one’s truly happy being selfish and self-absorbed. Multiple stats indicate selfless service is actually the most personally rewarding and fulfilling form of interaction. This “others” mindset, then, is a beautiful anomaly. By helping others, not only are they better off, but we are happier and more fulfilled. And the sense of purpose that comes with this mindset is deeper and more meaningful than many of the superficial goals our culture is embracing today.

On a practical note, we can help the next generation restore their sense of purpose by helping them discover their talents, and develop practical skills. Taking a mentorship approach and leading by example will be critical as we seek to train this next generation in how to live life well, and educate them on what’s really important.

Imparting this new sense of purpose to the next generation could be the biggest step we can take to help restore meaning, and support the next generation as they move forward in life.

Let's save the next generation and the ones to come

➢ What is one way you can invest into the life of a young person around you?

➢ Check out our YouTube Video on this topic.

Learn more about our Five Foundations here.


It's not easy, but it's worth it

It’s not easy to watch our national life expectancy decline. It can feel so hopeless, and like there’s nothing any one of us can do about it. But with a problem that started with individuals, it can be reversed by individuals. It’s possible to enjoy a long, quality life, and to help others do the same. By changing the way you live, and encouraging others by your example and investment in them to do the same, we can see a reversal of this trend for ourselves, and future generations.

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