When I bring it up to friends and family members that I am planning to live to 120 years, the kinds of questions and/or comments I get are:
“Wow, that is pretty gutsy to think that you can live to 120.”
“Why do you want to live that long?”
“I would probably not be around past 85.”
“I would not want to be around that long. It would be no fun. All
my contemporaries would all be gone.”
“My money won’t last that long.”
“What is the longest any one has lived?”
“How many people have lived over 100, 110, or 115?”
As I started wondering about these, I thought maybe I would start from the bottom of the list. Those questions certainly look easier.
So, what is the recent record of longevity for humans?
1500 supercentenarians (those over 110) have been documented in history. There are 30 verified over 115 year olds.
The oldest ever lived was Jeanne Calment from France who died on 4 August 1997 at the age of 122 years, 164 days. Sarah Knauss from the United States came closest to 120; she died on 30 December 1999 at the age of 119 years and 97 days. Two died at 117 years, and five at 116 years.
The oldest currently living is Misao Okawa in Japan at the age of 116 years and 11 days. She is the 10th oldest so far.
In 2012, the UN estimated there to be 316,600 centenarians (over 100) living worldwide. The US has the highest number (53,364 per the 2010 Centenarian Special Report ). Per the report:
“In the period from 1980 to 2010, the centenarian population experienced a larger percentage increase than did the total population. The number of centenarians increased from 32,194 to 53,364, resulting in a 65.8% increase, while the total population increased 36.3 percent. Consequently, the centenarian population increased from 1.42 per 10,000 in 1980 to 1.73 per 10,000 in 2010.”
As an optimist, when I look at this data, it looks very encouraging to me. First, it is definitely viable to live to 120. It has already been done! Like the four-minute mile, someone has already shown the way.
Second, an increasing number of people are approaching that age with an increasing rate. So, at this rate, by the time my time arrives, dying at 120 will be as routine as dying at 100 today! It might not be very common, but it might not be that rare.
What do you think? How do you see these statistics?