Monthly Archives: December 2009

Longevity and Parents’ DOD

Today is my birthday, so I’m reflecting on this age thing. Excluding health genetics, such as heart disease, and life “occurrences”  such as murder and fatal traffic collisions, does our longevity hinge on the date of our parents’ death, especially daddy dear?

The past month of November certainly holds  some parental “life moments” for me: November 9, 1907, my mother’s birthday November 15, 1965 my father’s death at 66; November 25, 1939, my parents wedding anniversary. To round off the picture, but outside November, is my Mom’s death, August 5, 1971.

I am pushing very close to Mom’s age when she died and maybe I should be paying attention to this. But I’m not – yet. I seem to be putting off thinking about it to later. When I was young, like in my teens and early 20s, the far future was  after age 40. But years, months, days, and even minutes and seconds seem to gallop along too fast, often leaving us doing the equivalent of scratching our heads and asking, “Huh?”

So I did a little Google research and came up with the early 2000’s  study, Longevity Across Generations by  Saul Lach, Yaacov Riton and Avi Simhon at The Center for Agricultural Economic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to these researchers,  the bottom line is if a father dies between the ages of 65 and 85, a son can benefit by two months for each year of life.  If dad dies when he is over 85, that amount bumps up to three months and here that includes his daughter(s). But when dad dies between 45 and 85 years of death, it has no affect on his daughter(s) longevity. The study also states that environment and socio-economic factors  play a role and goes into a lot of mathematics to explain it all – beyond my comprehension. I am a writer not a mathematician, so I look at the bottom line.

The study also factors in those diseases and life occurrences I mention above and even wages. So, it’s not cut and dry.

Perhaps the best way to get around this is a combination of fatality (pun not intended but it is appropriate), common sense and just trying to enjoy life. We all will die sometime. If we have hereditary health factors we need to take the appropriate healthy living measures – something everybody should be doing. For example, if we sit at our computer working for hours, we need to balance that with getting off our butt and going for a walk, run or swim or what some of us will unfortunately be  doing soon – shovelling the snow – not exactly the best physical exercise option, especially if you have heart disease.

Then there’s stress and its effects. We can meditate, do Tai Chi, Yoga, etc. but right now I’m thinking that we are such a tense work-oriented society, we need to get a happy life. We need to learn to let go and enjoy ourselves.

That’s something I plan to do today – at least after I get some editing work done for one of my clients. My son and his girlfriend are taking me out to dinner for Thai food (and I will try not to stuff myself too much). Afterwards I want to walk through downtown Toronto, look at the Christmas lights and department store windows and do a little Christmas shopping when it isn’t crowded.

At least that’s the plan. And as an interesting footnote, my paternal grandmother died at age 86 – one year beyond the 45-85 year span. Shouldn’t the generation before parents count in longevity? Or does it skip a generation?

Any comments here?



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