When will we die?

BY DOUG MAYBERRY Published: August 2, 2011
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Q. As my husband and I are in our 70s, we occasionally ask each other how long we think we will live. We believe a greater power will make that decision for us, but when? We even discuss the issue with our friends. We have the "normal" aches and pains, take a few pills and still live in our own home. Has anyone done any serious research on human longevity?

A. Psychology professors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie Martin have uncovered a few possible assumptions in their long-term longevity research. Their studies indicate that many existing adages about mortality have been proved wrong. The professors have reported certain counterintuitive information based on their investigations.

One finding indicates that optimistic people have a tendency to ignore details and often do not follow their doctor's orders, to their own detriment, which can lead to a shorter lifespan.

Another finding indicates that women who divorce often thrive and move forward. The supposition is that women rely on their friends, are closer to their families, are connected and enjoy their social relationships more than men, and that is why they tend to live longer.

On the other hand, men who divorce and stay divorced are at a higher risk for their mortality. Men find it more challenging to live alone than do women, who in most cases have been more responsible than their husbands in handling the household and family responsibilities. Men are usually not as experienced in the daily handling of children, planning social activities, cooking, shopping and balancing schedules and other duties.

The researchers also discovered that worrying was healthier for men and less so for women.

To me, that would suggest that most men feel a strong responsibility for "bringing home the bacon" in terms of providing finances and protecting their family.

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