As you get older, it’s only natural to start thinking about your own well-being, and how many years you still have left on this earth. The good news is that many people, through eating healthier, eliminating daily stress, exercising more, and giving up bad habits like overindulging in alcoholic beverages, and smoking, are living a lot longer. The bad news is, I think I better start updating my will. Either that, or put down this double whopper with cheese, put on a pair of track shoes, and take off running.
Do you know that there have been multiple scientific studies over the past few years, which claim to be able to predict how much longer you’ll live? Who knew? If I want to know how long I have to live, I just have to ask my wife. She’d probably say, “Let’s see……. we still have eight years left on our mortgage, the kids will be out of college in three, and you’re retiring in exactly ten years. Well, my best guess, and taking into consideration your incredible bad luck; I’d, say, exactly ten years, and about thirty seconds. Of course, if you don’t fix the light in the bathroom like you promised – it could be a lot sooner.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve read three interesting scientific studies on what researchers are calling, “10-year mortality predictors.” Supposedly, it’s now possible, based on your current age, and other factors involving lifestyle and specific behaviors, to determine if you’re going to live another ten years. Do you mean it took dozens of men and women with advanced degrees, brains so large; they carry their heads around in wheelbarrows, and a few million dollars to figure this out! If I’m sixty, as wide as I am tall, and have a beer in one hand and an entire piazza in the other; I can tell you this – another ten years, will be a miracle. Also, if I’m ninety-four, wearing diapers, being spoon fed mashed lima beans, and watching cartoons; I not only, don’t want to live another ten years, but seriously doubt I’ll make it.
One of the studies, using data and questionnaires, was titled, “Development, and validation of an index to predict 10-year mortality among older Americans.” It first assigned a point system based on age. It started at 50-59, and then increased by specific increments until it reached anybody over 85. The older you currently were, the higher points you were given. You were also given points for such factors as: being a male, partaking of very little vigorous exercise, smoking, drinking excessively, having a BMI over 25, doing illegal drugs, experiencing heart failure or chronic lung disease, and suffering from diabetes. The higher your cumulative score, the less of a chance you have to live another ten years.
Researchers, also looked at things like: can you bathe and shower without assistance, do you have the ability to walk unaided for 100 yards, when asked, can you remember the date, can you pull or push heavy objects, can you manage your finances, and do you have the ability to cook a hot meal by yourself? That’s some list. I guess, I’ll have to tackle the questions one by one. Yes, I can bathe without assistance, but why would I? I have a lovely nurse show up at my house three times a week to assist me. I have a question. Is that walking a 100 yards completely sober or after enjoying a few delicious, ice-cold beers at the local pub? What was that you said about the date? I think it’s 1998, but let me get my calendar. How heavy are those objects? If it’s a bag of sugar – definitely. A truck or a small bus, might take a little more effort. To be honest, I couldn’t balance a checkbook, understand the stock market, or make reasonable investment choices when I was thirty; what makes you think that after forgetting things like my wedding anniversary, I’ll start paying bills on time. As for cooking a hot meal; Why, when with one phone call –Papa Johns in the house!
Until I read and analyzed the scientific research, I didn’t realize that your points were higher if you are a male. On average, women live seven years longer than men, and have a much higher percentage, when it comes to living ten years more. If you think about it, I guess it makes sense. I figure, God, in his infinite wisdom, knows what he’s doing. After living with me for thirty or forty years, my wife is going to need, and deserve a break.
I have a few questions about some of these research studies. Maybe, one of you is a scientist, and can enlighten me. The one study mentions tobacco use, as a factor in keeping you from reaching that elusive ten-year barrier. Is weed considered tobacco? If yes, would it include marijuana consumption for strictly medicinal purposes? What if it’s mixed with Hershey’s cocoa, sugar, flour, butter, and baking soda? I know what you’re thinking, but this is my life man. I need every year I can get. Another thing I was wondering about is keeping your BMI under 25. Do you think there’s any flexibility on this factor? Sometimes, I go a little over, but most of the time, my “Big Mac Ingestion,” is down to about 18 or less per month. How come factors like forgetting an anniversary, spitting out your mother-in law’s fish-head casserole, or seeing a mother grizzly bear and her cub, and getting your walker stuck in the mud, aren’t on the list?
Before I move on to another simple observation, I wanted to mention another scientific study involving ten-year mortality rates for those over fifty. It was called, “Sex specific risk score to predict ten-year mortality rates for men and women using a treadmill.” This one had me confused for a moment. My first thought was, “Making love on a treadmill?” I soon pondered, how fast do you think it would it be going? I do know this. The treadmill would be located at one heck of a popular health club. Only, after more careful examination of the research did I realize, the study meant putting men and women on a treadmill and then determining relative endurance and fitness based on speed and distance. The only problem with that is, my wife can set it at the highest speed, and move with ease and grace, while simultaneously doing a series of spectacular somersaults. I on the other hand, can’t figure out how to turn the darn thing on! Another ten years? I think I’m a goner.