Geriatric massage could continue its growth as a health-care specialty—especially in light of new U.S. statistics that show life expectancy is higher than ever.

U.S. life expectancy reached nearly 77.9 years, and the age-adjusted death rate dropped to 760.3 deaths per 100,000 population, both records, according to the latest mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This mirrors another recent report that showed worldwide life expectancy is growing.

Results of the aging baby boomer population include a focus on vitality and strength, despite advanced years; as well as growing popularity of assisted-living centers, especially when compared with traditional “rest homes.”

The 2007 increase in life expectancy—up from 77.7 in 2006—represents a continuation of a trend. Over a decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years from 76.5 years in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007.

Previously, MASSAGE Magazine reported that massage improves elders’ balance and agility, and that hand massage enhances nursing home residents’ comfort and satisfaction with care.

Other findings:

• Record high life expectancy was recorded for both males and females (75.3 years and 80.4 years, respectively). While the gap between male and female life expectancy has narrowed since the peak gap of 7.8 years in 1979, the 5.1 year difference in 2007 is the same as in 2006.

• For the first time, life expectancy for black males reached 70 years.

• Heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death, accounted for nearly half (48.5 percent) of all deaths in 2007.

The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

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