How Long

Zero-year milestones, especially birthdays, attract plenty of attention. Hundred year birthdays get even more attention. There are an estimated 72,197 Americans age 100 or more, according to a 2014 CDC report, 44% more than in 2000. I want to be one of them some day.

Living to be 100 used to be some kind of miracle but improvements in lifestyle choices and medical advances have increased the chances of becoming a centenarian.

That said, it seems very few celebrities make it to the triple digit mark. Famous people have the financial resources to survive but many don't. Of course money isn't the only factor leading to a long life, but my sense of logic says it should help.

Adam West, the original TV Batman from the 1960s, died recently at age 88 from Leukemia.  Others this year: Gregg Allman, 69. Erin Moran, Joanie on Happy Days, 56, cancer. Judge Wapner almost made it, 97. Roger Moore, several James Bond movies, cancer, 89. Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs director, cancer and heart disease, 73. J. Geils, 71. Don Rickles, kidney failure, 90. Chuck Berry, 90. Bill Paxton, surgery complications, 61. Actress Mary Tyler Moore, 80.

Fair or not, you might blame lifestyle choices for early deaths of rock stars; sometimes that is the reason. Cancer is the angel of death for many others.

What about non-celebrities like us?  Leading causes of death at the older end of the spectrum include heart disease, cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's. That last one is on the rise. An expert quoted in a 2016 Smithsonian Magazine article says it seems that in many cases the mind gives out before the body.

That same article talks about the world's oldest person at that time. She was 116 and attributes her longevity to not drinking, smoking or partying; but she eats bacon every morning. Another centenarian works part time as a greeter at a winery and helps make wine cartons. She exercises occasionally and gardens in the summer. I wonder if she samples the product at work.

Adding up all of this, it appears the key to aging is to stay active, keep working, eat bacon and don't be a celebrity. Looks like I'm on the right track. So far.