Longevity is no longer a novelty; it's becoming an expectation
Since King George V started the custom in 1917, British monarchs send congratulatory letters to British and Commonwealth subjects when they reach their 100th birthday. In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne, she sent out 255 such meSssages. By 2014, the number had skyrocketed to over 7,000. And the Queen narrowly missed hitting that landmark herself.
As more and more people reach 100, it’s clear that more and more people expect to reach 100. And expect others to reach 100.
Just as one example, the US Track and Field Association organizes track meets in “master” categories for competitors over age 35. It now runs up to age 105. There are enough competitors to return a meaningful result if you search on Wikipedia.
We like to keep an eye on factoids like these, because they all speak to the “normalization” of longevity, and that normalization is a social force in and of itself. If we treat longevity as a reasonable expectation and not an outlandish one-off aberration, this in turn means more support for policies that encourage and enable that longevity. This is over and above longevity research in the lab; it speaks to social policy, housing policy, financial policy — in fact, the reimagining of almost every aspect of our community and how it works.
That’s why we were attracted to this article, an interview with Professor Perminder Sachdev, of New Zealand, dealing with the question, “Could we live to be 150?”
The article lays out in great detail just how reasonable the question has become”“
It points out that the number of centenarians will increase “seven- to eight-fold over the next three decades”
While the professor doubts the feasibility of living to 150 — “with the current technology” — he speaks of living to 120 as a distinct possibility
And as for 100? “We can reasonably hope to live to 100,” says the Professor, “with regular exercise, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. We can hope to live well into our 90s, as independent well-functioning individuals. That’s really the miracle of modern science and a modern standard of living.”