Aging: OLDER, LONGER

RESEARCHERS ARE FINDING MORE WAYS TO KEEP SENILITY AT BAY, BUT HOW LONG SHOULD WE AIM TO LIVE?

When Lemuel Gulliver encountered the Struldbruggs in the course of his exotic travels, he was enchanted by their immortality--until his hosts set him straight. By age 80, most of the Struldbruggs were "melancholy and dejected," so cut off from pleasure that they were "dead to natural affection." By 90, they were so senile that they could neither sustain a conversation nor read a book. Left alone to combat their assorted physical ailments, Struldbruggs could at best look forward to an eternity of "envy and impotent desires." They were, Gulliver concluded, "the most mortifying sight I ever beheld."

More than two centuries...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!