Maybe due to Halloween being just around the corner, I was engaged with friends in a conversation about life expectancy. The Social Security Administration has a life expectancy calculator available. Mine happens to be exactly to the age that my great grandmother was when she died. Now this calculator does not take into account your current health, habits and genetics.
I decided to make a mini-pedigree chart based on just my husband and my ancestor’s names, age at death, and cause of death. I went back 5 generations as that takes me to some of them being born in the late 1700’s. I chose that time period because it was pre-industrial revolution and most were living an agrarian lifestyle across the pond. I was trying to do pluses and minues, such as that was not a rushed society, however, if the crops failed it was extremely stressful. We have antibiotics but we also have pesticide residue. I decided the benefits and losses were about equal.
I truly only had 3 generations of definitely known causes of death with a few several times great grandmothers clearly dying during childbirth. Since that’s not going to be my cause of death I zeroed in on the remaining possibilities. Most I could do something about – I could take the flu shot every year; my maternal great grandfather died in the 1918 influenza pandemic. When I get to age 65, I can take the pneumonia vaccine as I’ve had several grandparents die from that. I can watch my diet and exercise to keep my heart in good shape. Not much I can do about the Alzheimers Disease other than keep my mind stimulated.
What really surprised my husband and I, though, was the proof that we descend from a family of klutzes. I’m serious! We have had several grandparents die due to accidents – falls from platforms, falls from ladders, and two railroad accidents. Being careful really isn’t something you think about in regards to longevity but in our cases, it is important.
I challenge you to look through your data between now and the New Year as it’s almost time for those genealogical resolutions. Analyzing your ancestor’s cause of death is an important legacy. Learning from their mistakes can result in a long and happy future for you.