Live long and prosper: Americans want to exceed life expectancy, but age 100 may be pushing it

December 6, 2018

Most of us only want to reach a ripe old age only if our lives have not been diminished by mental or physical infirmity, a survey conducted on behalf of Axios on HBO among 3,222 U.S. adults has found.

Specifically, now that medicine and science are making it possible to hit age 90—or even 100—fully 48% of Americans say that, whether more would be merrier depends strictly on quality of life. While most Americans do want to exceed their average life expectancy—77 for men; 81 for women—they are not thrilled with the idea of struggling through that surplus time with a refrain of, “Oy, my back.

And these preferences do not change much as we age. Of respondents in the 18-34 age group, 53% cite quality of life as the main driver for reaching 100; while 47% of those in the 65+ age group say the same.

The poll, fielded by SurveyMonkey, finds that that we all want to be sure we can live independently and won’t be in constant pain.

Among the key findings:

  • Almost seven out of 10 men want to live past their average life expectancy; as would 57% of women.
  • But nearly half of Americans, when asked if they’d like to live past 100, said it depends how much pain they’re in or whether they’d be able to live independently.
  • Nearly three out of 10 say they’re not interested in living past 100, while 22% say they’re open to it.
  • Seniors—people 65 and older—are both the most interested in living past the average life expectancy and the least interested in living beyond 100.

The bottom line, Axios saysQuality of life is important, too. So get over yourself, science.

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