Living a Long Life

Would you like to live to be at least 100?  For years we have been told that this is a distinct possibility.  Of course, genes, lifestyle, and health will figure into that equation.  My personal doctor told me that there is no reason that I could not live to be a centenarian.  Of course, the answer is…do we want that?

Reading an article online at HealthDay News Feb 17, 2012 seems to say that the odds of reaching a very old age may be wrong, according to a new study by Leonid and Natalia Gavrilov  at the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago.

“A team of researchers now believe that death rates continue to rise at the same rate after age 80…”  Because I will reach 80 this year, this became interesting information.

“These findings could lead to new estimates of life span, affecting insurance companies and government predictions of how many centenarians will be around in the future.  They could even affect calculations about how long retirement income will last.”  Leonid Gavilov thinks that this risk may be exaggerated.   Scott Lynch from Princeton University in New Jersey, cautioned that the new research still need confirmation.

For many years, researchers have believed that your risk of death doubled every eight years after the age of 20 or 30 and that upward slope would flatten out after the age of 80.  Of course, all people would die eventually, but once you got to 80, reaching 100 seemed very possible.

In this new study, the Gavrilovs examined the Social Security database of birth dates and death dates of more than 9 million people born between 1875 and 1895.  They found that the risk of death each year did not stop rising at the same rate after 80, but continued to rise at the same rate up until age 106.

This suggests that people over 80 may not have as many years as they might assume.  Scott Lynch, from Princeton, says “I’m hesitant to say that 50 years of theory and studies have been wrong on the basis of one study.”

The US Census Bureau had to revise estimates regarding the number of centenarians in the United states.  In 2005, it predicted that by 2010 there would be 114,000 people over 100, but the real total was less than half that.

The research , published online Feb 13 in the NORTH AMERICAN ACTUARIAL JOURNAL, was funded by the US National institute on Aging.  The Gavrilovs will present their findings at the annual meeting of the Chicago actuarial Association on March 13.

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About alonegwen

Retired educator interested in living life fully. Will write about aging wisely, good reads, food, travel, dance reviews, and other items as they interest me.
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