There are almost 6 million Americans over 85, but the number is expected to triple by 2050. And the number of people over 100 should quadruple from 60,000 to well over 600,000.
I don’t expect to be one of them, though 85 would be nice. You would feel that way too if you were married to Katie.
But the number researchers are kicking around a lot more often is a life span of 150, although gerontologist Aubrey de Gray claims the first human to live 1000 years has probably already been born.
I agree, but that was like, you know, before the flood.
Most experts say 150 is doable, however, and with relatively good health. “Organ printing” is already being done with blood vessels and hearts aren’t too far behind. One group has already made and replaced bladders and is working on 30 more tissues and organs.
Gene therapy is behind the 150 year claim as well, and researchers have already extended the life of worms ten times beyond normal, and even monkeys by 65%. (No word yet on whether the genes are denim or corduroy.)
But think of the problems associated with being 150.
Let’s start with marriages where spouses could be 90 years apart. Now that’s just creepy. And divorce? Multiple divorces could make Liz Taylor look like a paragon of virtue. We could look up to people who had only been married six or seven times.
And would siblings get stranger? What is a 16 year old girl to think when her big sister is 76. This is my sister aunt? Family dynamics would get weirder and weirder. Every home could be as dysfunctional as Jacob’s in the Bible, although we are getting pretty close to that without living any longer at all.
And what will we do? The government is reluctant to raise the retirement age above 65, but we are talking about decades of boredom if it doesn’t. “Hi, meet my uncle. He’s been playing bridge in a Florida trailer park for half a century.”
But just try to get a 120 year retirement age through congress, though. Try to get anything through congress if your congressman has been there 100 years.
People could be wiser and wealthier of course, especially after several different careers. No doubt younger people could learn from older people, if this healthy surplus of seniors was respected for their wisdom and known for their generosity. This is how it should be, but it’s not.
On the other hand, as Sonia Arrison points out in her book 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, they could also become “opinionated, peevish, covetous, morose, vain and talkative” like the struldbrugs in Gulliver’s Travels.
I’m already like that, and I’m not even 60.
But, just in case I make it to 100, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll write about it. That will be 50 years of blogging, and maybe by then I’ll know what I’m talking about.
I’ll keep a genetically engineered monkey around the house and teach him to talk. And I’ll visit my kids in the nursing home. Maybe I’ll build an ark. Write a few sonnets.
The possibilities are endless.
What would you do if you were 100?
See related post on marketing to seniors.