The Surprising Secrets to Living Longer — And Better
Old age demands to be taken very seriously–and it usually gets its way. It’s hard to be cavalier about a time of life defined by loss of vigor, increasing frailty, rising disease risk and falling cognitive faculties. Then there’s the unavoidable matter of the end of consciousness and the self–death, in other words–that’s drawing closer and closer. It’s the rare person who can confront the final decline with flippancy or ease. That, as it turns out, might be our first mistake.
Humans are not alone in facing the ultimate reckoning, but we’re the only species–as far as we know–who spends its whole life knowing death is coming. A clam dredged from the ocean off Iceland in 2006–and inadvertently killed by the scientists who discovered it–carried growth lines on its shell indicating it had been around since 1499. That was enough time for 185,055 generations of mayfly–which live as little as a day–to come and go. Neither clam nor fly gave a thought to that mortal math.
Humans fall somewhere between those two extremes. Globally, the average life span is 71.4 years; for a few lucky people, it may exceed 100 years. It has never, to science’s knowledge, exceeded the 122 years, 164 days lived by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who was born when Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House and died when Bill Clinton lived there…
BY JEFFREY KLUGER AND ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN
CAŁY TEKST DOSTĘPNY W: TIME, FEBRUARY 15, 2018