The Flinchum File

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The Fear of 100

I attended a birthday party for a relative reaching the age of 100. He was born when postage was only 2 cents and unemployment was only 2.4%, both lower than today. I asked him what was the secret to living so long, and he answered “apples & onions”.

Later, I asked a very close friend “how would you like to live to be 100 years old?” His response startled me. He said . . “not if I’m like the birthday boy” who has macular degeneration and is also virtually deaf. It is traditional to think that every person wants to live forever, but my friend suggested that is wrong-thinking.

The late Jimmy Buffett wrote a memorable lyric that “he’d rather die while he’s living than live while he’s dead” . . . interesting!

One problem is how to calibrate that. How do you know when your physical or health limitations are too limiting to enjoy life any longer? While that answer is different for everybody, the question is how will YOU know.

Another problem is what to do after you reach that point. Do you just tough it out and suffer? Is that heroic or stupid? Do you “off yourself” or commit suicide? That’s not a simple question. There might be family or religious implications. What about the medical and financial implications? More importantly, how will YOU answer those questions?