How long do you want to live?

The longest recorded life span of a human isn't even a speck in eternity.

Do You Want to live to be a hundred? No, said 63% of respondents to a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons. Only 27% said yes. Yet those living to a hundred or more are in the fastest-growing segment of the population. So just what should a life span be? The Encyclopedia Britannica reports that life spans range "from one day for the mayfly to thousands of years for the bristlecone pine." And "the longest-lived mammal appears to be the human" with a maximum life span believed to be between 115 and 150 years.

Fear of deteriorating health, being dependent on a nursing home, and other changes sometimes associated with age were the main reasons given for not wanting to live too long. Yet, should we expect limitations? Does a roll of the dice determine whether our advancing years will be full of misery or full of achievement?

Reformers needed for the century ahead
January 3, 2000

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