People in Canada, the United Kingdom and United States are living longer than 20 years ago but they are also living sicker for longer when doing so, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
Analysis of the WHO data by Club Vita showed that people aged 60 in the three countries could all expect to live at least 1.6 years longer from 2019 than the same age cohort in 2000.
They could all also expect to live healthier for longer than 20 years ago, but the length of these increases was not the same as those for life expectancy, indicating people will live sicker lives for longer.
“On average, the increase in health adjusted life expectancy (HALE) was lower than life expectancy by approximately 1.1 year for men and 0.9 year for women between 2000 and 2019,” Club Vita longevity risk modeller Shantel Aris said.
Notably, the analysis showed that along with having the shortest life expectancy and shortest healthy life expectancy, American women and men had the longest ill health expectancy.
The UK had made the greatest gains in life expectancy and health adjusted life expectancy over the two decades for women and men.
However, Canadian women and men still had the longest life expectancy and healthy life expectancy of the three nations’ populations.
Life expectancy for Canadian women aged 60 in 2019 was a further 26.4 years which was up 2.1 years from 2000. However healthy life expectancy had risen only 1.2 years to 19.7 years.
This meant the number of expected years in poor health rose from 5.8 years to 6.7 years. For Canadian men the years in poor health rose to 5.6 years.
This pattern was replicated across the trio of countries, but American women and men faced the longest time in ill health – 7.3 years and 6.2 years respectively despite having the shortest overall life expectancy of just 24.4 and 21.8 years respectively at age 60.
Aris said the analysis left three key questions.
“Will we see a closing of the gap in LE and HALE coming out of the pandemic? Or will the gap widen?” she said.
“With LE increasing, people may need to work longer to afford a comfortable retirement. If HALE does not keep pace with LE, will they be able to?
“What are the societal impacts of a divergence in LE and HALE?”