Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lifespan Increasing
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet


From the LA Times:


Marion Higgins is very good at remembering. She remembers writing her first book 10 years ago. She remembers moving into Seal Beach's Leisure World in 1989. She remembers the history of furniture acquired at long-ago garage sales and celebrating the end of the World War — both II and I. She remembers hearing the Titanic had just sunk, and the long railroad ride to her family's homestead in a new state called Idaho. And she remembers hating sunbonnets.
That would have been in the '90s — the 1890s.
Mrs. Higgins turns 112 on Sunday.
According to the Gerontology Research Group at UCLA, the average life expectancy for Americans born today is 77.6 years (80.1 for women and 74.8 for men). The 2000 census found some 50,000 Americans who claimed to have reached 100.

The research group, accepted as a global authority on the super-elderly by Guinness World Records, among others, doesn't care about those who've merely crossed the 100-year mark. These scientists become interested after someone reaches 110 -- a super-centenarian -- which only about 500 Americans of those 50,000 will.

Then, the group's network of clever gerontology detectives like Robert Young seeks proof and insights.
Super-centenarians remain rare, but their numbers are growing. In 1999, the gerontology group, a loose band of doctors, demographers and part-time researchers, counted 45 people verified as 110 or older. Today, its website (www.grg.org) lists 66. Over the years, it's documented 835 super-centenarians, including 16 who reached 115.

"The entire globe has been explored and mapped," Young says. "Now, we can start discovering the geography of the human life span."


You ain't seen nothing yet.