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Life Expectancy

Posted Sep 02 2009 11:16pm
By Kevin Brown | Bio

Last week I read that life expectancy in the United States has now reached 78 years of age. As reported by Associated Press, a baby born in 2007 can expect to live to the age of 78. The same report noted that heart disease and cancer together were the cause of nearly half of U.S. fatalities, and that Alzheimer's disease has surpassed diabetes to become the sixth leading cause of death.  Regardless of how long we can expect to live, everyone has
a date at which time life, as we know it, will come to an end. Whether by natural or unnatural causes, our life on earth will have a conclusion.

Wikipedia defines “life expectancy” as the average number of years of life remaining at a given age. Certainly a life expectancy of 78 years is better than the previous high of 75.5 years. But what if we consider ‘life expectancy’ from a slightly different perspective? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “expectancy” as the act or state of anticipating or looking forward.  What would be the implications for us if we thought of our life expectancy as being about what we might anticipate or look forward to as we live the precious moments of our lives, rather than looking at the number of years we might have left?

I recall discussions with my father about what he looked forward to when he retired.  He anticipated a time of rest, a time when he could pursue his hobbies and favorites sports. He also talked about spending time travelling with my mother.  As with many working class families, life occurred as a series of work weeks, weekends for rest,
helping children with homework, and the almost never-ending chores associated with a family of eight.  When vacation times did occur, the varying schedules of growing children left very little time for Mom and Dad to spend together. My father retired at 60 years of age, but by then, both my father and mother had become, well, 'home-bodies'. They had spent so much time at home that the very thought of travelling made them tired. In fact, they really never learned how to travel, so for them, vacationing occurred for them as more work.

Don't get me wrong. They enjoyed the rest that came with retirement, but with their increasing age came infirmities. Both no longer had the health they enjoyed when they were younger. My father passed away at the age of 74 and my mother joined him some five years later.

While what occurred for my parents is indeed 'what is', a small part of me wishes that my parents had created possibilities for their individual lives throughout each year, rather than have focused so much on their retirement years. It occurs to me that the future does not occur somewhere in distant months or years. The future occurs in each new moment and therefore possibility also exists in each new moment. What possibilities might each of us anticipate, create or look forward to as we live each moment of our lives?

At the Eldering Institute, we are committed to a rich experience of aging for everyone.  Imagine living your life as a possibility. A life in which you have the ability to choose how your future occurs for you. Our Eldering
Manifesto
provides just such a vision for growing older. Please watch the video and then read the
manifesto. If you share our vision, declare your commitment to a life of possibility by signing the manifesto. As in all of life, the choice is yours!

© 2009 Kevin Brown. All rights reserved.

 
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