There is nothing like a shock that forces a realization you are on the downslope of life’s journey. I imagine few of us, and quite likely none of us, are aware when living at the peak, or exactly when we began the descent.
I was jolted into reality recently when reading a mortality survey developed by San Francisco researchers. It calculates the odds an individual will survive ten years. The survey implies various medical and life style indicators can predict the chances of kicking the bucket within the next decade.
The test is based on a point system. The lower the score, the more likely an individual will be alive ten years down the road.
I decided to take the quiz and discover my probabilities.
I received a bonus on the very first indicator. Men get 2 points just for being men. I earned one point for being a woman between the ages of 60-64; additional points are conveyed for increasing age.
Two points are given for a variety of medical problems, smoking, difficulty bathing, managing money because of health or memory impairment, or trouble walking several blocks.
I thought about the walking indicator, deciding whether or not to give myself two points (a bad thing). As long as the blocks are not uphill, and the weather is not too windy or cold, I can successfully accomplish the task. But I do not always walk in warm, sunny weather on a level path. So to be fair, honest and true to the test, I split the difference and gave myself one point. I do not know if that is allowed, but did it anyway.
Then I thoughtfully considered the money indicator.
Sometimes I forget where all my money goes. I had $50 in my wallet and it is all gone? How could that happen? Where did it go? Did I lose it? Did I spend it? Where? And what about those debit card expenses. No way did I make all those purchases shown on my computer screen. So, to be faithful to the test and candid with myself, I awarded myself another two points for money memory impairment.
Additional points are received for a variety of other tasks, including difficulty pushing large objects, being thin or of normal weight. Both gave me pause.
I am not very good at pushing large, heavy objects. If I succeed there is a good chance my back will go out. Since I do not want to endure back pain, I avoid pushing any heavy objects, large or small. Not that the opportunity occurs often. I rarely reorganize furniture, for instance. If my car dies I am not going to attempt to push it anywhere.
Some things might be large but not heavy, but how many large but not heavy objects are there? I cannot think of anything around my house fitting that description. I might, however, push hub around once in a while. Sorry, honey. But if in a bind, I can push a large object and end up in traction (the questionnaire did not mention the consequences of the action). So zero points (a good thing) for pushing large objects.
I have to give myself one point for not being thin or a normal weight. Unfortunately I carry a few too many pounds.
The highest score, the worst possible outcome, is 26. Only a man 85 or older with a slew of health problems earns this score. The man has a 95% chance of dying within ten years.
A score of zero can only be achieved by a woman under 60 with no medical problems, but who is slightly overweight.
Was that a misprint?
Apparently a few extra pounds on a woman – not a lot, just a few (not defined) – is a favorable attribute. Researchers do not know why, but one guess is thinness in older women may mean the person is ill.
So what did I learn?
I can breathe a sigh of relief because the survey confirms that I should live another ten years.
Unless I am hit by a car or in a plane, bus or another transportation-related accident, fall on ice or anything else and seriously injure myself, develop some dreadful disease, am shot or knifed or wounded by a burglar or passerby…but I will think positively.
Time to write that ten-year bucket list.