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American Life Expectancy Lowest in 25 Years

May 26, 2023

The certainty of death has reached an alarming new milestone as life expectancy in America recently hit a 25-year low.

We all know the old adage about death and taxes. Well, those are still about the only certainties in life. But the certainty of death has reached an alarming new milestone as life expectancy in America recently hit a 25-year low, as recorded by Macrotrends.

Granted, we’ve come a long way from the turn of the 20th century, when Americans could only expect to live to the ripe old age of 47. By 1950, that number had risen to 68. By 1980, 73; by 2010, 78, and by 2019, Americans could expect to live to be 79. But in 2020, life expectancy fell to 77 and dropped further to 76 in 2021, the lowest it had been in 25 years.

Why Is America’s Life Expectancy So Low?

Slowly but surely, life expectancy in America has begun to creep upward again, but the question of why it plummeted is important. So why is US life expectancy so low? There is no shortage of reasons.

  1. COVID’s Cataclysmic Impact

America accounts for only 4% of the world’s population, but according to World Health Organization statistics, the US lost more than 1.1 million people to COVID, 16% of the 6.9 million COVID deaths worldwide. A mortality analysis shared by The New York Times indicates that that’s a 63% higher death rate than in other larger, wealthier countries around the globe. COVID deaths continue to level out in 2023, but it’s no wonder that the average age of death in America was significantly impacted during the apex of such a devastating, global pandemic.

  1. Dominant, Deadly Diseases’ Role

Heart disease is still the leading causes of death in the US, according to the CDC, accounting for 25% of deaths, 697,000 people in 2020. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, although from 2001-2020, death from cancer decreased 27% overall. Despite medical advances of the 21st century, and being among the wealthiest countries in the world, The Commonwealth Fund reports Americans have the highest rates of multiple chronic diseases.

  1. The Ongoing Grip of Drug Addiction and Overdose

rates decreasing

Unfortunately, drug addiction and overdose deaths in our country factor greatly into why US life expectancy is so low. More CDC research reveals that drug overdose deaths have increased fivefold in the past 20 years, accounting for one-third of all accidental deaths in the US.

In 2020 through 2021 — the years when life expectancy in the US hit that 25-year low — drug overdoses increased 14% overall. The highest rates of drug overdose are among 35- to 44-year-olds, but the highest increase (28%) in overdose was among ages 65 and over. Drug overdoses are shortening the lives of seniors in the US, but also killing those in their prime, orphaning children.

Around the world, and certainly here in the US, the news of the day is consistently and dishearteningly negative. If you let it, it has the very real potential of adversely impacting your mental and physical health.

Where Do We Go From Here?

While you may be tempted to give up hope and just await the inevitable, given the drop in life expectancy, the cultural challenges we face as a nation, and the ongoing struggle for health and wellness.

But that’s not really living, and you still have plenty of living left to do!

Rio Retreat at The Meadows specializes in helping people learn new, effective tools to uncover the experiences and issues that have kept you from living your best and healthiest life now. Whether you’re in recovery, in need of relationship help, or healing from emotional trauma, we offer real-life workshops to help you move forward. Workshops like:

  • Survivors I: Helps those feeling stuck understand and let go of childhood trauma
  • Thrive: Teaches you how to release old patterns and embrace new ones
  • Family Matters: Privately helps your family bridge the gaps that are hindering healthy function
  • Spirit: Uses horsemanship to builds self-esteem, boundaries, emotional regulation, and mindfulness

Despite the negativity of the culture, the self-talk in your head, or the dysfunction from which you arrived at this place, there is a path forward, a path of wellness and personal growth. We’d be honored to help you find it. Reach out today to learn more.