Allan Takes Aim Blog

Some pointers to living for 150 years

Posted on: 27 October 2011


 First published The Chronicle Canberra, Tuesday 25 October 2011

‘You don’t look your age’ and, ‘don’t worry, you’ll live to a ripe old age are two phrases commonly used to flatter older people. Perhaps the flatterers use these phrases in the hope that when the older people drop of the perch of life they have left them something in their wills that made the flattery worthwhile. You might say I’m simply being cynical. I’m not: this has happened many times

However on the basis of the recent announcement that soon it might be common for people to live to the grand old age of 150 the phrase might be used more often. Indeed its use could become so common that its application as flattery might be severely diminished. On the other hand a phrase that could come into vogue might be: ‘I wish I looked as young as you.’ 

Today, of course, anyone living to 100 is considered something of a celebrity. In time honoured fashion they will get a birthday card from The Queen. And even if staunch republicans, most of them will think it an honour. 

Almost certainly they will be visited by a reporter from their local newspaper who will want to take their picture and ask them what was the secret of living to such a great age. During their many years of living and having heard the phrase often used about journalists never letting the facts get in the way of a good story, they do the same.

As a result readers will get some marvellous stories (true and false) about the secrets of their success. For example, they might say that if younger people follow their regime of not smoking, drinking carrot juice for breakfast every morning and occasionally indulging in something a little stronger, more than likely they, too, might live to 100. I say this not without some knowledge because my grandmother, who lived to 101, said this what she did.        

While living to 100 sounds fine the thought of living to 150 frightens a lot of people to death. Well it shouldn’t. That might have been the case in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but today things are different. People are already living longer. As you know Canberra itself will soon celebrate its centenary and if the longer living reports are true, it could be on the way to becoming a city of centenarians, not that I’m likely to be one of them.

But if you think living to 150 is good news, be warned, good news often has unintended consequences. Two such unintended consequences might be that you will be subjected to a plethora of advertising about how to enjoy a longer life. 

I feel sure there will be so many new diets you’ll need to live to at leat 130 to find out which ones, if any, actually work. Apart from diet adverts, similar adverts will be spruiking keep-fit equipment suitable for people aged 100-135 years. The message of both adverts: if you aren’t on the right diet and using the right keep fit equipment, you won’t get the best out of your extra years of life

Other important issues mentioned in my column “Do YOU want to live longer?” (27 April, 2010) are: apart from diet and keeping fit, consideration would need to be given to the following.

“With male life span shorter than that of females, [and] even though some older males manage to remain fertile, fertility is rare among older females. However, if life span is extended it seems logical to assume that both men and women will want to extend the age of procreation. If this happens a likely consequence is that older couples (it would be wrong to call them aged because in an extended life span a new definition of aged would have to be created) might want to continue having children.

“And if older couples become grandparents and their first-born also become grandparents, children born of older couples will become siblings of grandparents and even of great grandparents. It might happen also that more couples will divorce. If that happens the mind boggles at the possible social problems.” But not to worry; clearly people will have longer to solve these problems.

The Chronicle for Canberra’ s best community news. Published every Tuesday

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