- NEW YORK - As medical breakthroughs show promise in slowing
the debilitating effects of aging, almost two thirds of Americans say they
do not want to live to be 100, according to the results of a survey.
- Survey respondents cited poor health
and financial insecurity as the primary concerns about living to a very
old age. They also expressed fear about losing mental faculties, depending
on others, burdening their family, becoming isolated, and living in a nursing
- The survey, released by the American
Association of Retired Persons (AARP), found that 63% of 2,032 adults surveyed
did not want to reach 100, and that 46% of this group worry about declining
health as they age.
- But according to John Feather, director
of the AARP Andrus Foundation that funds research on aging, this response
is based on an outdated understanding of what it means to grow old.
- "People don't want to live to be
the stereotype of 100," Feather told Reuters Health. "But people
can make choices at any point in their lives to make longer life better."
- Indeed 84% of respondents said they are
exercising, eating well, watching their weight or maintaining a positive
attitude so that they remain healthy as they age. Such lifestyle choices
are more important for seniors than genetics when it comes to keeping fit,
- "After a certain age genetics is
less important," he commented.
- The survey also found that 60% of Americans
believe life will improve for the average 80-year-old. Fifty-seven percent
expect medical breakthroughs to increase life expectancy to 120 years within
the next century, and most of those surveyed believed that there will be
a cure for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease, the leading
causes of death, in the next century.
- Respondents also noted the benefits of
old age including more time for family, friends and hobbies, and personal
and spiritual growth.
- People aged 85 and older are the fastest
growing age group in America. The AARP, a group that represents those aged
50 and over, estimates that there will be about 70 million older people