In 1900, people over 65 accounted for approximately 4% of the United States population, less than one in twenty-five. Today, more than 100 years later, this portion of the population has grown to almost 35 million or just under 13% of the American population. By the year 2030, when the baby boom generation reaches senior status, more than 70 million Americans will be 65 and over, comprising between 19%-20% of the total population (Figure 1).1 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.2 By the year 2025, life expectancy is projected to be 73 years.3 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.3
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 chronic diseases increases with age,4 and recent studies linking periodontal health to the progression of systemic conditions demonstrate the need to understand women’s aging complexities even greater. As the numbers of aging women increase worldwide, dental professionals face significant challenges and opportunities in recognizing 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, and depression. 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.
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