If you’re a baby boomer, you probably remember the Irene Cara song, “I’m Gonna’ Live Forever.”
Question is, would you if you could? The highly respected and renowned Pew Research Center recently released a comprehensive report—with key subsections—that’s entitled, “Living to 120 and Beyond: Americans’ Views on Aging, Medical Advances and Radical Life Extension.” Pew conducted a survey March 21 to April 8, 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 2,012 adults.
Would you like to live forever? Remember this current statistic: By 2050, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.
Aging drains resources
I hope you’ll take time to read the research—some of it rather “deep”—in its entirety, but I very much want to summarize key points here for you, my Mind Your Body TV audience. This one, I believe, is the core thesis:
*Asked whether they, personally, would choose to undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process and live to be 120 or more, a majority of U.S. adults (56 percent) say “no.” But roughly two-thirds (68 percent) think that most other people would. And by similarly large margins, they expect that radically longer life spans would strain the country’s natural resources and be available only to the wealthy.
I find the part about resources intriguing, because I worry every time I contemplate global warming, or see litter thrown on the highway or in the creek. I ask, “What are we doing to our planet?” The answer: “Bad things.” And the upper class has always had access to more and better medical care. That’s not new.
Choose radical life extension?
*Asked how long they would like to live, more than two-thirds (69 percent) say between 79 and 100. The median (middle number) ideal life span is 90 years—about 11 years longer than the current average U.S. life expectancy, which is 78.7 years.
*Seems more than four-in-ten adults or 44 percent say radical life extension would make the economy more productive because people could work longer, but 53 percent disagree.
*Two-thirds say they think medical scientists would offer life-extending treatments before they fully understood the health effects.
Do you think that’s happening now?
Health for the wealthy
*When asked about the future likelihood of “the average person” in the United States living to at least 120 years, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) say it either probably or definitely will not happen by the year 2050.
I tend to agree, but then, I wouldn’t want to live that long unless I was “intact.” How about you?
As Pew notes, “Scientists do not know exactly why people age and die. One popular theory holds that humans are essentially programmed to die after they are no longer needed to raise the children they produce.”
I’ve heard this from one of my physicians, and it does correlate. Still, it doesn’t account for how our bodies actually deteriorate, and therein lies the key to the Fountain of Youth. No doubt, scientists will continue to look for it.