Average "morbidity," or, the period of life spend with serious disease or loss of functional mobility, has actually increased in the last few decades, a new study has said.
The research was carried by Eileen Crimmins, AARP Chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California, and Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, a postdoctoral fellow at the Andrus Gerontology Center at USC.
"We have always assumed that each generation will be healthier and longer lived than the prior one," Crimmins explained.
"However, the compression of morbidity may be as illusory as immortality."
While people might be expected to live more years with disease simply as a function of living longer in general, the researchers show that the average number of healthy years has decreased since 1998. We spend fewer years of our lives without disease, even though we live longer.
A male 20-year-old in 1998 could expect to live another 45 years without at least one of the leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes. That number fell to 43.8 years in 2006, the loss of more than a year. For young women, expected years of life without serious disease fell from 49.2 years to 48 years over the last decade.
The research has been published in the Journal of Gerontology.