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Aging in America - Do you really want to live to be 150?

By HERWriter Guide May 16, 2008 - 1:37pm
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One of my favorite Queen songs is Who Wants to Live Forever? I am not sure I do.

So I know I won't live forever, anyway, but I see so many headlines these days about how to lengthen our lives, and captions like "you too can live to be 120!" with a picture of some cute, smiling little old lady in a French nursing home underneath.

But I have a question. Two, in fact. One, do I actually want to live that long, and two, can I afford to?

84,000 people in the US are 100 years or older. Barbara Walters' special "Can you live to be 150?" lists a lot of different facts and figures about being older in America. But who can afford to get old? 40% of workers in America are not saving for retirement.

So if we want to live longer - who is going to pay for it? Will we be working until we are 85 or 90 years old, in order to pay for this longevity? Will social security and Medicare be able to withstand these costs? (don't answer the last one, I know the frightening answer).

But leaving the financial aspects to one side - my main issues are -

What if we adopt the restricted diets, healthy lifestyles and high exercise regimes recommended to reach a grand old age and our friends and family do not? Do we want to see our friends, siblings and even children, die a few decades before us? That'd be kind of lonely. All us centagenarians would need to start some kind of support group!

I suppose if I could live well until 120,or 150, that'd be one thing. I have never been afraid of hard work to pay my bills. But being in a nursing home for the last 30 years of my life is where I have the problem. Even if the state is paying for it, do I want three decades in an institution, regardless of how nice it is?

What if I am healthy and living in my own home? I fear the last 30 years of my life may be as a widow or a sexless human being. That might matter if I am feeling like a feisty one hundred five year old! And as much as I like to work, will I really want to have to get up at 7am to earn a paycheck when I am 110?

And heaven forbid, I may have many chronic diseases for 40 years that can be controlled but not cured. That's not for me. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal.

Or will I depend on my children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren to care for me? What if I have no children to begin with? I don't want to be the 125 year old lady down the street with 17 cats and a house the kids avoid on Hallowe'en.

I guess this subject leaves me with more than those two questions I began with...

Tell Us -

Do you imagine yourself living to be well over a hundred? 120? 150? Do you even want to? Do you imagine it may be lonely or would you appreciate a few quiet decades at the end of your life?

Add a Comment3 Comments

I for one want to be around for as long as I can move. I think it's such an exciting time to be alive and I want to be alive for as long as I can too see what happens next. I remember my Great Grandmother who was born in 1901 and died when she was 94. She spoke with such amazement about all the changes and exciting advances she had witnesses throughout her life.

I miss my Great Grandmother so much!

May 18, 2008 - 3:30pm

Let me give this some thought...

No! I don't want to be hobbling about, unable to really enjoy life, and I fully anticipate I'll be a bigger pain in the keister to my kids than I am now, haha!

May 16, 2008 - 4:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm with you Susan. Longevity doesn't seem worth the trade offs -- decades of potential loneliness, financial burdens, limited mobility, becoming the neighborhood Cat Hoarder, the list goes on.

While I think some silence in our life is useful, decades of it may feel more like a prison term to me.

Is the human body really meant to live that long? And because we can live that long, does it mean we should?

When it comes to living, I think I'm more for quality over quantity. What would be the advantages of living to be 150 or 120? Any thoughts?

May 16, 2008 - 2:26pm
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