The Other I

May 16, 2011

Use-by Date

Filed under: Just Stuff,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 8:20 pm

I heard today that Boots Pharmacy plans on marketing a test for aging, a sort of use-by date for life.

Apart from having serious doubts as to just how accurate it might be, I find this a challenging question.  Would I like to know how fast I am aging relative to other people?  Would I like to know how much time I can reasonably expect to live?

For starters, if I had a reasonable idea of how long they are going to have to last it would certainly make organizing retirement finances much easier.

I think it would be something like half way between being told one has a terminal disease with some specific time doctors would expect me to live and knowing that we are all terminal but just don’t know when.

But what if I knew that I probably had six more months to live?  or ten years? or twenty or even thirty?  I don’t think I would mind so much, but would it really make a difference?  I would live with just as much energy as I do now.

And I quite respect the human condition for what it is.  Which is not knowing, possibly until the very last minute, that I am about to die.

So I think I’ll skip the Boots test after all.

Well, that’s a savings of $500 or so.

Would that all savings were this easy to achieve.


  1. Faced with a cancer diagnosis, I came to a similar conclusion. It would not change anything if I knew I were going to die. I already knew that.

    (But I will admit to having fun with the online survival calculators, putting in symptoms and adding or subtracting treatment options to see how it changed the predictions.)


    Comment by Noreen — May 16, 2011 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s good to feel that there are other people out there who share the view that not knowing isn’t the worst possible option. In fact, there is a great deal to be said for the possibilities uncertainty creates, don’t you think?

      It sounds as if whatever treatment option you chose has been successful so far. I hope it continues until you reach the time when you know it’s time.

      Err, yes, I confess that I too experimented with various aging predictors. That was when I decided not only that I didn’t really want to know but that I thought the predictors were pretty fuzzy anyway.


      Comment by Terry Sissons — May 16, 2011 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with you both: no sense knowing *for sure* how long we have left, but it’s fun to fill out little quizzes… I like Noreen’s comment, “It would not change anything if I knew I were going to die. I already knew that.” It’s always salutary to keep in mind that we’re not here forever, no matter how well we do on those little quizzes…


    Comment by Chris — May 19, 2011 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

    • Yes, I agree on both points. It’s fun to fill out those little quizzes, but they always say I’m younger than I am, which gets me started immediately wondering if maybe I cheated a little on my answers, and then I start analyzing the questionnaire and wondering how it could possibly be valid. I do sometimes wonder, though, how much fun I would find it if the results said I was going to die within months. Salutary as it might be…


      Comment by Terry Sissons — May 19, 2011 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

      • I suppose it’s good for us to consider our mortality regularly — at least that’s what the Buddhists say. Helps to encourage non-attachment, which fosters tranquility. That makes sense to me, but it also feels a little morbid. We’re definitely not used to acknowledging mortality in our culture.


        Comment by Chris — May 25, 2011 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

      • You clearly are not in touch with your Irish heritage.


        Comment by Noreen — May 26, 2011 @ 1:22 am | Reply

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