"how many years do I have left?"
Do you ever worry about whether you will be able to accomplish all the things on your bucket list?
Whether it is to travel and explore the world, enjoy nature by hiking, biking or running, keep up with active grandkids, or to just relax and enjoy life, most of us would agree that we want as many years as possible in our lives -- not just to survive, but to thrive!
We have all see the headlines about life expectancy in the U.S., including how it has declined for the past three years. For a baby born in 2017, the life expectancy is 78.6 years old according to data from the CDC.
Is this a useful number?
Even more importantly, these statistics don't account for the critical question of "how many HEALTHY years do I have left?!"
For however many years you will live, how many of those years will you be healthy and thriving? Because, the reality is our healthy years are likely going to be fewer than the total years we are alive.
So, the burning question is..."how many fewer?".
What about a better number?
Wouldn't it be great if we could estimate how many HEALTHY years of life we have left? That way, we would know how much time we have left to pursue everything on our bucket lists! People have attempted to estimate "healthy life years," sometimes referred to as HALE (or health-adjusted life expectancy). For example, in 2015 the global HALE was 63.1 years, well below the overall average life expectancy.
What's your number?
Wouldn't we all like to know our "healthy life years" estimate?! You're in luck! The Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research at the University of Connecticut has taken on a project to help you estimate how many healthy years of life you have left.
We know you want to know! Here is a calculator to get YOUR estimate!
I did it -- I ran my number (based on eating healthy, exercising at least 4 times per week, moderate alcohol, and getting an average of 6-7 hours of sleep) and it shows I have 50 healthy years left, along with just under 4 unhealthy years!
Interestingly, if I estimate the number based on "average" assumptions (or what the average American might do for diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and sleep), it estimates I would have 36 healthy years left, along with over 5 unhealthy years. That's 14 fewer healthy years by living a less healthy lifestyle...talk about incentive!
Of course, the one thing we know about these calculators and estimates is they will be wrong. Unforeseen accidents could occur and make these estimates useless. We should think of it as more of an educated prediction vs. an exact science. Keep in mind, this calculator is a work-in-progress, but the project team has attempted to base it on sound assumptions, experience and data sources.
Are you now wondering how you can increase the number of healthy years you have left? Of course, some of the big things you can do include:
- Eat REAL food
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Keep your stress under control
- Nurture your relationships and make memories
And, what can we do to help others...our children, family, friends, and coworkers - increase the healthy years in their lives?
Of course, we think one great idea is to share Eat REAL America with them! What better gift could we give than to help someone add one or two, or even more, healthy years to their lives?!
What do you think?
Is it helpful to think about how many HEALTHY years of life you may have left?
What could you do to add a few more healthy years to your life?