Actively Aging

Actively Aging

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Rise of the 100s

How old is old?

Well, I think most people agree that if you live to be 100 you are old.

But that could be changing in the future.

The U.S. Census Bureau is anticipating that there will be at least 1 million centenarians living by 2050. Why heck, if I'm still living then I would be knocking on the door at 98.

That estimate has many scientists debating the idea of maximum life span potential.

"Maximum life span potential means how long humans could live if all environmental influences were optimal and accidental causes of death were avoided. In other words, the only thing on your death certificate would be old age," says Laura Carstensen, author of A Bright, Long Future and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.

Currently, that age is 125. But there is great debate about if it can be extended. Jean Louise Calment, a French woman, is the oldest documented living person in recorded history. She died at 122.

The life span question is also the focus of a famous bet on aging.

In January of 2001, two scientists each contributed $150 to a trust fund, which is anticipated to be worth $500 million when their bets end in 2150. Their game: Predict what the world record for longest life will be by 2150. One bet on 130 and the other on 150.

So what happens if the betters aren't around to collect the winnings themselves? The agreement they made stipulates that the jackpot would then be paid to the heirs of the winner.