I was surprised to read that many Americans now hope to live to reach the age of 100. I work as a chaplain with the elderly, and although I see a few who reach that age in pretty good shape, most folks suffer a lot in their later years, and many of them who are somewhere in there 90’s tell me they would rather not be around any more. Most of those are faithfully religious people who would love to “go home to God.” Some are not religious and are just tired of living with all their mounting physical ailments and miseries, and feel it’s “time to go.” Either way, I have observed that although none of us want to die prematurely, very old age is really tough. If I had 3 wishes, none of them would be to last to the age of 100–although I would never criticize anyone else for wanting that long of a life.
I was, at the same time, not surprises to read that being religious can contribute to longevity. Many religious traditions don’t condone lots of things that could threaten a person’s health–smoking, excessive drinking, sex outside of faithful relationship, etc. And of course, for many religious folks there is spiritual peace and comfort that assists them through the most difficult struggles and crises in life, as well as a sense of a Divine power being in control over the daily happenings. This confidence/belief perhaps translates into less stress, or at least a way to deal with and relieve stress as it comes. Perhaps that alone could add a few years to one’s life.