Caregiver for husband with dementia, writer
What’s Your Life Expectancy?
We all have times when we wonder how long we are going to live.
Charlie insists that he is going to live to be 94 because that's the age at which his mother died. He forgets that his father died in his late 60's.
That's the joy of dementia I guess – you forget what you don't want to remember.
I told him that he had better be prepared to go it alone because I sense that I will depart this earth by age 85. That doesn't seem to worry him at all, although he depends on me for nearly everything; another benefit of dementia.
Life expectancy in America was estimated at 78.24 years in 2010, the most recent figures I could find. These figures were based on genetics (20-30 percent) and lifestyle (70-80 percent).
Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. has a Longevity Game on the internet that you can play to determine your estimated life expectancy. Roughly, based on my age and sex I started out with an expectancy of 90 years. Then the age was moved up or down based on answers to specific questions: height, weight, stress, diet, habits, etc.
By the end of the game I had achieved a score of 96 years. That's pretty good – much better than my own prophecies based on nothing more than family history.
In his New York Times 2012 article, writer Dan Buettner writes about "The Island Where People Forget To Die." Ikaria is a bucolic place in the Greek Isles, and is a place where people don't wear watches, drink herbal teas based on ancient Greek recipes, and consume lots of olive oil, vegetables, goat's milk and honey. There is very limited consumption of dairy and meat products. They enjoy a laid back lifestyle and grow most of their own food.
We all could learn from these people.
In this era of Chernobyl, Japanese earthquake contamination, and Monsanto spread toxins and GMO's, those of us living in a more modern society than those Greeks may have to make some serious lifestyle adjustments to come close to achieving the 2010 predictions for longevity.
Take a good look at your lifestyle, take the longevity test, and figure out how you can increase your life expectancy and how to stay healthy as you get older.
I think Charlie is going to have to change some of his habits if he's going to outlive me. But I'm not going to tell him that. He wouldn't remember it anyway.