Thursday, April 24, 2008 looking ahead by Sybil Sage

"How to LIve Longer Without Really Trying," a piece in today's "New York Times," caught my attention as living longer interests most of us. It's an appealing goal until you consider how many more times you'll be shaving your legs, all those trips to buy groceries, the hours you'll be holding for Tech Support, having orthotics fitted and being called to do eulogies for dear friends who've had more cigarettes or stress in their histories.

Even so, I'm a curious person (not one of the questions in the questionnaire) so visited the website,, to see how much longer I should expect to hold on. Comparing myself to women my age, many of whom I've seen munching on churros at Disney World, I was more than mildly distressed to discover my biological age is only five years below my true age. My lifestyle seems remarkably healthier than theirs. Could it be there's such a thing as secondhand churro effect?

Moving on to life expectancy, I'm told I have 26 years left, meaning I can safely buy a large tin of olive oil, should probably replace my mattress but it leaves me agonizing over whether or not I should get an extended service contract for a new appliance. Clearly I can still keep accruing mileage, but shouldn't wait forever to use it.

The tougher statistic is my healthy life expectancy: 86.7 years. I'm looking ahead to roughly six years that promise to be challenging. I have a long-term health care policy but only one son. What to do with this information? Well, maybe my son is the one who should be doing the math.