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Friday, November 4, 2016

Post #58: Death Expectancy


I am now one year away from the U.S. Government’s demarcation for “Old Age.”

These days, however, when someone says they are 65 years old, people still tend to think of them more as “older middle aged” rather than old.  At age 65 we are expected to still be active, engaged with people, sociable, capable of hard work, and maybe having fun with a little bit of spare time.

Telling someone you are 70, however, brings about a different stereotype.  In just five years, we have gone from healthy and active to someone who is old.  And this stereotype is often true.  Seventy year olds tend to move more slowly than 65 year olds.  They tend to have more health problems.  And they tend to have fewer friends.  It’s not that people don’t like 70 year olds.  It’s just that a 70-year old’s friends have started dying off.

That’s another stereotype of the 70-year-old man or woman.  They tend to die during this decade.  They don’t die as often as in the past.  Still, when you hit your 70’s things turn around.  You no longer have a “life expectancy.”  You now have a “death expectancy.”

At 70, your employees begin to wonder how much longer they will have to work for you.  Your supervisees become hopeful that you will die and leave a higher paying vacancy for them to fill. 

At 70 relatives begin to calculate your net worth.  They worry about you having a lengthy illness that will eat up all of your investments.  They wonder how much like them, and what share of your legacy they will inherit.

Enemies start planning the celebrations they will have and how it will be to finally be free of their anger with you when you die in your 70’s.

A lot of people will be sitting around, waiting for you to die when you hit 70.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a 70-year-old!  Thank goodness at 70 we usually have the time to take Yoga lessons, Thai Chi, or Meditation.  We can learn how to counter the pressure others are putting on us to die!

Then, one day we hit 80.  When that happens, we can not only celebrate our birthday, but we can also celebrate having disappointed all of those who were anticipating our death at 70.  This will likely launch a new round of death expectations.  “Surely,” everyone will be thinking without saying aloud, “he will die soon.”  Unfortunately, everyone thinking this has statistics on their side.  There are a lot fewer 80 year olds than 70 year olds. 

So, the waiting game starts again.  This time, however, it’s been 10 years, and a lot of those waiting for you to die when you were in your 70’s have themselves died.

For those of us who are truly competitive, there is the 90’s.  Once again, we will have frustrated those who predicted or anticipated our death during the 80’s.  The good news here is that more of these death expectant people are no longer around.  You beat them at their own game.  While they were waiting for you to die, they succumbed to death themselves.

The bad news is that by the time you hit your 90’s, the odds of surviving another decade have really turned against you.

The best you can do now is to enjoy every moment of your 90’s (and possibly 100’s), and keep everyone waiting for as long as you can.