If you have one clock, you know what time it is. If you have two or more, you are never sure. Prompted by a visit to the Social Security office, I ran their Life Expectancy Calculator, which uses only age and gender. It stated that, for my age cohort, I could expect to live to age 83.6, and when I am seventy, that will be pushed out to age 85.3. Fair enough. Then I got a wild hair…
I went to the Wharton How Long Will I Live page. The entry form has about forty questions. Their results are in the form of quartiles (they have a "Your Life Expectancy" value, but it is always very nearly the same as the median):
- First Quartile: 79.0
- Median: 86.9
- Third Quartile: 94.0
- A calculated longevity, 90 in my case, with the note "You could live to 99."
- A couple of pages of suggestions and how much each can impact life span. For example, I might add a year to my life by taking an aspirin a day (I currently take none).
- Personalized recommendations by the doctor who runs the site, Dr. Perls. This came to about eight pages.
None of these asked the single most significant question that affects my life: Have you had or do you have cancer? I had colorectal cancer eleven years ago, lost 40 pounds during the period when I could not eat at all, and had half my colon removed. I suspect somebody somewhere has tables that would modify these four predictions, probably in the direction of about a decade downward!
So, what'll it be: 84, 87, 90 or 95? I won't expect more than another twenty years (85 total), but I'm basing my retirement planning on the 95 figure, just so I won't go broke. And I plan to get more of the fun stuff accomplished prior to age 75; it makes for fewer regrets. P.S. I suppose your local amateur shrink will tell you I'm in my third mid-life crisis, and I'd agree!