Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Gerontology. 2020;66(4):309-314. doi: 10.1159/000505995. Epub 2020 Feb 26.


Over the past century, the life expectancy in industrialized countries has rapidly risen by over 30 years due to improvements in standards of medical care, sanitation, and lifestyle. Estimation of life expectancy has traditionally been viewed through a lens of epidemiology and public health. However, this data, while considered the "gold standard" of measuring healthy life expectancy, may soon find itself redundant in the face of advancing medical technology. Even as average life expectancy has increased, there has not been an equivalent increase in healthy life expectancy, or "healthspan"; furthermore, there is a current trend of stagnation in life expectancy, as the supposed increases are estimated to be drastically slowing down, in part due to exhaustion of our current ability to extend the human lifespan. In this viewpoint, we will examine the developing fields of medicine and life sciences which will reshape our current approach to life expectancy prediction.

Keywords: Age-related changes; Aging; Exponential aging; Healthy aging; Lifestyle; Linear aging; Longevity; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Life Style
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Quality of Life