Living to 100
A new study finds that living to 100 will soon be commonplace:
If current life expectancy trends continue, more than half of babies born in rich nations since 2000 will live to 100 years of age, and they’ll have less disability than elderly people in previous generations. That’s the conclusion of researchers who found that increases in life expectancy evident in rich nations since 1840 show no signs of slowing.
“The linear increase in record life expectancy for more than 165 years does not suggest a looming limit to human lifespan. If life expectancy were approaching a limit, some deceleration of progress would probably occur. Continued progress in the longest living populations suggests that we are not close to a limit, and further rise in life expectancy seems likely,” Kaare Christensen, of the Danish Aging Research Center at the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues wrote. Their study appears online Oct. 1 in The Lancet.
During the 20th century, huge increases in life expectancy (30 years or more) occurred in developed nations. Even if health conditions don’t improve, 75 percent of babies born in rich nations since 2000 can expect to live to 75, the researchers concluded.
Their analysis of data from more than 30 developed countries revealed that death rates among people older than 80 are still falling. In 1950, the likelihood of survival from age 80 to 90 was 15 percent to 16 percent for women and 12 percent for men, compared with 37 percent and 25 percent, respectively, in 2002.
I actually think this projection is too conservative, in that advances in medical science at increasing faster than before. Improvements in trauma care, for example, have been extraordinary and the spread of extraordinary emergency response even to remote areas should prevent countless needless deaths.
And then there are improvements in safety engineering and consciousness. Kids wear helmets and pads to undertake even routine activities like riding a bicycle, which would have been unthinkable a generation ago. And we keep kids in car seats until they’re roughly 30 years old now, providing protection from crashes previously known only to Richard Petty.
There’s talk of living to 150, which seems fantastical now but may be closer to the mark than the more pessimistic 75/75 total.