Aging, Systemic Disease and Oral Health: Implications for Women Worldwide (Part II)
Course Number: 330
In 1900, people over 65 accounted for approximately 4% of the United States population, less than one in twenty-five. In 2019, more than 119 years later, this portion of the population grew to almost 47.8 million or 14.9% of the American population.1 By the year 2060, when the baby boom generation reaches senior status, more than 98.2 million Americans will be 65 and over, comprising between 25% of the total population (Figure 1).1 In fact, the U.S. adult population grew faster than the nation's total population from 2010 to 2020.2 Worldwide, similar demographic trends are being observed. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports women living longer than men and among the 60+ age group, 54% are women. This proportion has been reported to rise to 60% when women reach 75+ years of age and rise even higher to 70% by the time they reach 90+ years of age.3 The World Health Organization (WHO) published an up-to-date set of World Health Statistics to 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report indicates an overall increase in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy over the last 20 years, as a result of reductions in maternal and child mortality and in premature mortality due to noncommunicable diseases, which have both had a positive impact on global health. However, the pandemic caused an estimated 4.5 million additional deaths in 2020.4 The deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic are estimated to negatively impact global progress on both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy made in the first 20 years of the century. Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge disruption to global health and the functioning of health systems. Currently, life expectancy at birth, for both sexes combined, is 73.2 years. For females, it is 75.6 years, and for males, 70.8 years.5 In fact, evidence indicates that women on average are outliving men by six years in the developed countries and only three years in low-income countries. Numbers globally representing people 65+ has been reported to increase from 390 million to over 800 million by 2025. The expectation is that no country will report a life expectancy of less than 50 years; however, more than 50 million people now live in countries representing a life expectancy of less than 45 years.6
The impact from these demographic trends may indicate women living longer; however, a longer life does not guarantee a healthier one free from disease. The fact women are living longer does not guarantee they are enjoying the quality of their life. The likelihood of women suffering from multiple chronic diseases increases with age,8 and recent studies linking periodontal health to the progression of systemic conditions demonstrate the need to understand women’s aging complexities even greater. A UN report published in 2022 indicates that women’s and children’s health has suffered tremendously globally, as the impacts of geographical conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change intersect with disastrous effects on health outlooks for children, young people and women.9 As the numbers of aging women increase worldwide, oral health care professionals face significant challenges and opportunities in recognizing sex/gender specific health concerns that ultimately impact the overall well-being of their patients.
This course will focus on three common conditions women may potentially experience as they age: stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It will further discuss risk factors and research-based approaches to treatment protocols and prevention. Oral health care treatment guidelines, and home care products specifically tailored to promote oral health will be addressed.