If we make the presumption that we will stay reasonably healthy and cognitively intact but cannot live forever, what would be ideal would be to at least know how much time each of us has left upon this green earth.
Charlie's dictum: "All I want to know is where I'm going to die so I’ll never go there."
-Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Letter to Shareholders
Many people-some ophthalmologists among them-worry about death. Some worry that they will die too young, missing out on years with loved ones, favorite activities, and the many joys of living.
Others worry that they will die too late, suffering from afflictions, such as dementia, that could leave them with a poor quality of life for many years or a length of time that would exhaust their finances in retirement.
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And some worry about both possibilities.
For those who prefer unlimited longevity, there is the strategy attributed to famous businessman Warren Buffett's partner, quoted above.
This plan is obviously unworkable, however. The way airlines work these days, the odds that your next flight will be cancelled and you will be rerouted through the city in which you are to die is very high.
So if we make the presumption that we will stay reasonably healthy and cognitively intact but cannot live forever, what would be ideal would be to at least know how much time each of us has left upon this green earth. Knowing whether you have 1 year, 10 years, or 30 years before the time comes to "shuffle off this mortal coil," as Hamlet would say, would allow you to get your affairs in order, be sure to accomplish the things you think you are important, and arrange that the last check you write will bounce.
Until recently, it has not been possible to know how long you will live.
Then Claudio Gil Araujo, MD, PhD, and colleagues of Gama Filho University in Brazil published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention the results of a study of 2,000 subjects ages 51 to 80. Subjects were given the sitting-rising test which assessed their ability to sit down and stand up again without holding onto anything. The maximum score is 10 points, with 1 point being subtracted each time a hand or knee is used for support and 0.5 points deducted for loss of balance.
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Following the subjects for the next 6 years revealed an impressive piece of data. People who scored fewer than 8 points on the test, he found, were twice as likely to die during that time period than were those who scored higher. Subjects with 3 or fewer points were 5 times as likely to die.
A quick online search will find a video of how to do the test. The test is simple and requires no special equipment (not even shoes). You, dear reader, therefore have no excuse for not trying this out today, on the floor of your office or at the end of the day when you get home.
Hopefully, you will score an 8 or higher. If not, I don’t think the data let us know whether you with practice can raise the score and thereby increase your chances and making it another 6 years, but hopefully this is the case.
Getting a perfect 10 is not that easy (for me, anyway). If you score terribly on the test (0 or 1) take heart. You only need to make it for another 2 weeks in order to enjoy your next issue of Ophthalmology Times and you will not need to worry about who will become our next president.
• Eur J Prevent Cardiol. 2012;DOI:10.1177/2047487312471759