The Elder Guardianship Scam

How Long Do You Want to Live?

EDITORIAL NOTE: At the bottom of this post is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show - a now-and-then conversation between me, the proprietor of Time Goes By, and my former husband, Alex Bennett. There is a lot of health talk in this one with a lot of laughing too. But first, some thoughts about living for hundreds, even a thousand years.

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In just 100 years, average life expectancy at birth worldwide has more than doubled, from 31 years in 1900 to 69 years in 2016. It differs wildly among nations from 50 years in Sierra Leone to 83 years in Japan.

However, the longer we live, the higher our life expectancy becomes so currently, average world-wide life expectancy at age 65 ranges from 74.7 years in Sierra Leone to 86.8 in Japan.

Throughout history, humankind has sought eternal youth - we are familiar with Ponce de Leon's search for the fountain of youth along with other who sought the storied philosopher's stone, varieties of panaceas and the elixir of life.

Today, people are looking harder than ever for a magic formula that will allow people to live to be hundreds of years old.

Some people put stock in learning about how to extend their lives from the “blue zones” scattered around the world. Blue zones, explains Reuben Westmaas at is, broadly,

”...a place where people live to be 100 at extraordinarily high rates, have an extraordinarily average high life expectancy, or an extraordinarily low mortality rate for middle-aged people.”

Millions of others believe a variety of supplements peddled online by hundreds of people claiming to be life extension “experts” will keep them alive for longer than without the supplements.

One of the earliest extreme longevity researchers is Aubrey de Grey, chief scientific officer at his own charity, the partially self-funded Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (Sens) Research Foundation in California. de Grey claims the first person to live to be 1,000 is already alive.

Here's a little video about de Grey from Canada's National Post. (Thank you, doctafil, for the link):

Zillionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, who helps fund de Grey's research firm, is among some other wealthy individuals who are funding life extension and anti-aging research. Australian geneticist David Sinclair believes a pill that would extend human life is only 10 years away.

The two founders of Google are spending spending big bucks on extending life too:

”In 2013, Google started Calico, short for the California Life Company. Employing scientists from the fields of medicine, genetics, drug development and molecular biology, Calico's aim is to 'devise interventions that slow ageing and counteract age-related diseases.'”

Another tech billionaire, Larry Ellison, funds a research foundation that goes even further with a related, more expansive idea. The Guardian explains:

”They investigate the details of the ageing process with a view to finding ways to prevent it at its root, thereby fending off the whole slew of diseases that come along with ageing.

“Life expectancy has risen in developed countries from about 47 in 1900 to about 80 today, largely due to advances in curing childhood diseases. But those longer lives come with their share of misery. Age-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s are more prevalent than ever.”

Jay Olshansky, a sociologist at The University of Chicago School of Public Heath, rejects the standard approach of curing one disease at a time. He believes the life extension goal can be reached by concentrating on “healthspan” rather than lifespan:

”By tackling ageing at the root [heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's] could be dealt with as one, reducing frailty and disability by lowering all age-related disease risks simultaneously, says Olshansky. Evidence is now building that this bolder, age-delaying approach could work.”

And then we can all happily live de Grey's thousand years. Disease free. Right?

Every time I peruse the most recent life-extension literature, I am astonished that hardly anyone mentions the enormous drain on the planet's already strained resources that would ensue if we all lived hundreds of years.

South Africa and some other places are already running out of water. Once fertile lands around the world are turning into deserts. More frequent and disastrous weather events are wreaking havoc around the world. The oceans are rising and there are more problems to come from climate change that we have yet imagined.

Most basically, where would we put everyone? How would we feed them? The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-tenth of the world population, about 815 million people were dealing with chronic undernourishment in 2016.

I doubt that number has dropped in two years and I am hard pressed to believe that efforts to feed the hungry would be any better with a longer-lived world population than it is now.

Even if you can shrug that off, there are important ethical and philosophical questions. To scratch only the surface...

Would life be as meaningful without death?

How long would people be expected to work?

Would everyone's lives be extended or only rich people's?

Would marriage mean the same thing?

With more time, would people have more children?

Would life become boring?

Paul Root Wolpe, chief bioethicist for NASA and director of the center for ethics at Emory University, told the National Post:

“Look, I want to live to 150, too. I mean, don’t misunderstand me. I want to see my great-grandchildren. I want to see the first people on Mars. I want to see all that Aubrey [de Grey] wants to see. I just don’t pretend that it’s not a narcissistic desire because I can’t think of a single good that would give society.”

I'm with Wolpe on that. What about you? Would you want to live 200, 500, 1,000 years?

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Wednesday 6 June 2018.

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests after me, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.


Interesting post about age. I think wanting to live for a very long time may depend on several things: your current health and quality of life, and your belief system, that is, what will happen to you when you die. Those who believe in an afterlife where God is present and all tears are dried, plus reuniting with loved ones, may welcome the release death brings.

At age 77, I feel I have "lived long enough to die." I have fulfilled the biological imperative to have children, and I have experienced love. I have made some grand mistakes, and I continued to live and do some good to others. I'm more interested now in offering other living things kindness and mercy on an individual basis than I am on influencing the wider social/political culture. I don't resonate to the technological revolution, look forward to the horrors of climate change, or hope that Medicare/Social Security will continue to be funded.

When my mother was alive, I used to tell her she lived in the "golden age," when you could still drink from the clear springs and streams in the forests of Oregon. That age is gone, and with it, most of the freedoms of living in an unregulated environment. Don't get me wrong, I support regulation as the only way to protect ourselves from ourselves in an increasingly crowded world. However, when I look ahead, I see more and more distance from the environment that invited me in, not out.

And so I cultivate my own organic garden, and watch the butterfly larvae eat up the dill plant undisturbed. And give away my tomatoes to neighbors and friends like some sacred offering from the distant past. I'm happier than I have been through most periods of my life, and feel I'm in my own "golden age." Like the garden, it can't last, and that's what makes it beautiful.

If lifespan was dramatically increased, or death even virtually eliminated, there are some pretty awful developments to consider, like a movement to maintain the right to have children, and another one to discourage--even forbid!--them from reproducing. A real dystopian situation where women secretly, illegally, dangerously have back-alley births.

Call me naive but I want to live to a 100. I had three aunts who did---101, 103 and 104---and two were active right up to the end, writing books and giving lectures.

I so enjoy your talks with Alex and it's great to see how good you look. No, I don't want to live to be 150. There are many other issues to be resolved if we are going to have a healthy planet to live on. Increasing the number of us oldies but goodies in the world is the back end of the list.

I love Diane D's comment. I so agree.
I'll be more than happy with 80 (I'm 71). I've had a full life and have done my little part and that is enough.

Basically, I think this desire is a selfish one that will create so many social and psychological problems, it will backfire.

Its no different than greed and you see where that's getting us.

As long as I can live happily, independently, pain-free, and mentally sharp, I'm happy to stick around. I'd love to see my grandchildren (15 and 12) married and/or launched in their careers, and maybe a great grandchild or two. But 100? 200? No, no such aspirations. My parents lived into their late 80s and that sounds about right to me.

I think it's an outright lunatic idea. Don't those guys consider, even a little, the consequences of a lifespan of 150+? My family loves me, thank goodness, but I'd worry about wearing out my welcome!

Thanks for the post and thoughts on living longer, and enjoying your talk with Alex, the EX. having a touch of the bronchitis this week. The saying it takes Rain and Sunshine to make a rainbow, comes to mind. The sad thing today is hearing about Anthony Bourdain, who brought so much joy to the world committing suicide, maybe he got a bad diagnosis of some kind?

Talk about great minds think alike! I decided a couple of days ago that another 10 years and that's it, thank you very much. Granddaughter will be 19, Roth and IRA will be pretty much flat by then and If I am still around, I can be the first Brinton Baglady, but I doubt I will be. COPD tends to worsen.

I think wanting to live to 100/200/500 etc., is a bit like well being in favor of abortion or not in favor. There would be a lot of heavy pros and cons to consider if one were given the choice and the consequences life changing.

Yes, I would love to see where technology takes us; how the world deals with refugees from unlivable lands; will my g'daughter be strong. However, one life span is definitely enough for me and I'm happy to wallow in memories occasionally, and more than happy to watch what is happening right now. Past is done, future is short, today is IT.

As I've said before, there are now 2 generations retiring at the same time. What a drain on resources! Now, some want to go even longer. Unless we find a stable
environment off-planet, I would not want to see the future. My Mom is 93,
her male friend is 100. Mom is still pretty sharp, but her friend has "good" days
and "bad" days. If the movie "Cocoon" was reality, I might be interested. By the way, if anyone thinks Social Security has a problem now with only the boomer generation retiring, imagine what would happen with extended longevity.

I agree that this old Earth can only sustain so many people drawing on it's resources. Imagine how crowded cities would be if people lived to be 200. The youth would not be welcomed then and people would stop reproducing. The ramifications of such a scenario are mind boggling. Mother Nature knows best and man should stop tinkering with her plan.

Again, I love seeing you laugh on the "Alex and Ronnie" show.

This desire to extend human life to 150, or 1,000 or infinity -- what ever the magic number might be -- seems to me yet another example of the anthropocentric period in which we live. Other animals are increasingly dying off, even the oceans and other bodies of water, largely due to the indulgence of humans and our destruction of their habitats. Unless we can simultaneously figure out some way to eliminate our short-sighted, self-centered attitudes and excessive consumption, I don't see why we would want more of this.

We, as a species, have kept ourselves in willfully ignorant bliss, ignoring the fact that we have overpopulated the earth. Either we have to stop producing children or stop lengthening expected life spans.

Oh, that laugh! Love seeing you and Alex together after all these years. Believe it or not I will be 65 in 2019 so now we have the same joys and concerns.

You're looking good! Sounding good! Laughing good!
I sure don't want to be here at 150.........who are these creepy people, who always want MORE of everything?????

It's funny how one's attitude changes over time. When I was young, I saw death as either an outrageous injustice, or a heroic flamboyant final exit, depending on which melodramatic fiction I'd been reading most recently. Either way... in my imagination, it was all about me. I was special. I was different. I was going to leave a mark on the world!

Sixty years later, I'm not that fourteen year old drama queen any more. I've come to terms with not being all that special. It's all right that four hundred years from now nobody alive will know my name. They'll still be different in some small ways because of me, because that's true for everyone. I've made choices. I've touched other people. I have indeed caused some modest changes in the world. I hope they've mostly been for the better.

There is a Shakespearean quote, though, that still resonates for me.

[...] nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed,
As 'twere a careless trifle.

Since death is inevitable for us all, I still hope to be one who meets it, when it does come, with clear eyes and a lifted chin. (So perhaps I still cherish the ambition to be special in that one way. Of course it remains to be seen whether that hope will hold up against future circumstances. Possibly I will have to lower my sights even more!)

No Thank you. Dealing with daily life is becoming harder. My husband is 89 and I'm 76. Though we're both in good health, his physical capacity has declined. I've learned from him what's coming. This year has taken a toll on my ability to keep up. Not looking forward to my 80's.

I was just happy to make it to 40. I’ll take every decade God wants to give me happily though. 100 would be nice if I’m still enjoying life.

I admire your drive and hope that one day I can accomplish half as much as you. It was lovely to meet you today. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

I'm with Anne and Diane above.

Also, your interviews with Alex rock!!

Keep them coming.

I'm firmly in the corner of "No, thanks!" when it comes to living to 100. Obviously, my doing so would not benefit the environment or society. My productive, useful years are behind me and, speaking for myself only, I'm not a huge fan of old age. On a purely selfish level, I'd like to remain around until my 88 Y/O spouse and 3 senior cats no longer need me. Longer? Probably not.

My response might have been somewhat different in my late 70s (I'm 81+ now). I was still employed and in good health. I became involuntarily retired 3-1/2 years ago and began to develop physical problems the following year. Although I'm still reasonably healthy overall (no "killer diseases" yet), pain is a daily companion now which saps a lot of the energy and motivation I used to have--to say nothing of pleasure and joie de vivre.

I'll post this comment before I lose it, then go back to the Ronni & Alex Show.

Protect us from ourselves! The environment needs such, and somehow we can't just willy nilly keep on being so bad to the earth and each is precious, and yet seems to have a limit because we need some limitations on our sense of power.

However long I live, I live — but wanting to do so to 100 or longer hinges on remaining mentally competent and as physically healthy as possible for me. I anticipate we will eventually have colonies in space; genetic intervention to eliminate many diseases and cell regeneration for organs/body as needed. It seems unlikely to me all of this will occur in my lifetime, or at my age that I’d even be a candidate to benefit for such needed treatment, but some certain ones might.

I believe these dark times will brighten in the future, that adaptations, resolutions to alter some of our environmental issues, food supply and population issues science will discover will prolong our lives. Our world(s) will be desirable though significantly changed from what we know today is my view.

I'm 66, retired and ready to go. I strongly support euthanasia.

I've done what I wanted: had kids, travelled etc and now the future seems bleak. I've seen my parents ageing, and know that old age is NOT pretty. ~Chloe

I guess I'm selfish. I want to stick around ... as long as my knees hold out.

I think we're on the verge of a totally, totally different world, and I'd like to stick around to see it.

Are any of these people who are investigating (and probably investing in) extreme life extension women? Your examples don't say. My instinct is that may matter, though I can't entirely say why. Guys of a certain age get attached to wacko ideas? Maybe.

For myself -- I hope more for active health than long life.

Great to see you looking so great, Ronni!

I think putting a number on it misses the point. I want to live as long as I enjoy reasonably good health and am making positive contributions to my family and community.

Still thinking about this...

First, the de Grey video is awash in wishful thinking. It's not going to happen. Not like that, anyway. It's true that modern medicine knows a whole lot more about the complex feedback loops in the body and brain than it did even ten years ago, but this is a subject I've been paying attention to. We are only at the very beginning of starting to figure this out.

The rich men who are funding this research are in denial. They want to be special because they that's been their life experience. They don't want to believe aging and death will apply to them, personally. They're really not much different from Chinese emperors of old who paid charlatans immense sums for potions of immortality.

But hey, someday there might be rejuvenation treatments that actually work. Too late for any of us here. Too late for Peter Thiel, too, and I promise you nobody's going to be reviving corpsicles. But someday. So. Think about that, and think about how we know the world works.

The impact on world population? My bet is: essentially zero.

Who will be able to afford rejuv treatments? It's not going to be offered to the teeming multitudes. How many citizens of Bangladesh today do you think get facelifts? It will be a jet set thing. Celebrities, billionaires -- and, of course, dictators.

We should find a way to keep dogs alive until a healthy 20 on average. They bring much joy and depart too soon. If cats can live that long on average, why can't dogs?

People? To 150? NO. It's ridiculous to pursue that, and Sylvia nailed who would want to be that old. Let 'em go to Mars and be 150.

Excellent read. I do not have any particular age in mind that I would want to call it quits.

I agree that while it is nice to dream about living to some truly wild ripe old age - someone has to take into consideration where all these people would live, where would we get the resources to house and feed them, yada yada yada.

As long as I have my faculties, am able to fend for myself, and am not in a wheel chair or bed hooked up to a bunch of tubes and wires and such, then sure I would like to live as long as I can. But when I can't - well - so be it. We all got to go sometime.

Thanks for sharing.

I don't care one way or another. However, my only goal is to stick around long enough to take care of my wife, the only person that I really deeply care about--so I have a goal and that may just keep me going.

I’m with Wolpe. Also, IMHO, these tech billionaires are so accustomed to using up far more than their share of the earth’s resources that it doesn’t even occur to them as a problem. For myself, I am more than happy to leave this mortal coil when I am no longer able to enjoy friends, conversation, food, activities, etc.

The idea of being very old never appealed to me at all, mostly because someone very old, no matter how healthy, is less able. I come from a long-lived family, especially the women, and have known more than my share of the frail, fretful, and forgetful who live on and on, friends dead, sometimes children dead, grandchildren not that interested, and so on. I shudder at the thought. I go to a Death Cafe meeting once a month or so, near where I live, and I find the conversations so satisfying and stimulating because no one is desperately planning how to live a little longer, but rather embracing death as a normal development. And hoping to make our bodies into compost! I really don't think the human race will continue a lot longer because of our greed and narcissism and refusal to see reality clearly.

cannot believe I am now 83. mind excellent and some issues like arthur, using came
trying to get shingles - of all places right side of face from tooth extraction and it was horrible. None of the big ones that take you, so trying to eat good, exercise, meditate
and vitamins. Happy in my own cottage, a little help, but ready to go.
A good life filled with a lot of drama at times, have accepted.

Longevity can be one or the other--a blessing or a curse. For me, it is a blessing. At 79, I still have a job that keeps me active; I see an eye doctor once a year to make sure my eyes still work so I am able to continue reading; and I have lost the ability to see the glass half empty as I believe good people are still out there. As for the longevity concern as a whole, I am going to recommend to those who are able, read the book, "The Skeleton Man" by Tony Hillerman. Mr. Hillerman died at the age of 83 and his death is our loss as he still had much to tell us through his fiction. All of our lives have value even now as we approach the end time. As far a living to be 150 years, that sounds like an oxymoron but I can see 120 as maximum number of years. So many books, so little time!

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