The Most Depressing (or Inspiring) Health App Ever?

I have 18,918 days left to live. According to my newest health app, that is. For the past five days I have been receiving push notifications every afternoon with my longevity status. “You have 18,918 days to live” will spontaneously appear next to my random “don’t forget dog’s flea medication” reminder when I reach for my phone. With each push notification my chest immediately tightens and feelings of anxiety and inadequacy prevail.

Sitting at the kitchen table the other evening, I shared the ultra depressing app with my husband. I even pulled up the included pie chart of my projected lifespan which indicates I have already completed much more than a sliver of my being on this earth. “If you consider when we want to retire, and look at this graph, we really don’t have much time left to make a living so we can afford to winter in Florida!”, I bemoaned to him. “I actually think it’s inspiring” my husband replied. Maybe he won’t think so when he realizes our pie charts won’t match up as he is older than me not to mention a male with a shorter life expectancy.

As I explained the app to friends over margaritas yesterday, one friend made an even more depressing observation. “Your life expectancy may be 18,918 days, but for how many of those will you be highly functioning- you know, cognitive and physical decline will inevitably set in at some point” he remarked. Great. Maybe I need a secondary reminder for how many days left until I become a wearer of adult diapers.

I didn’t actively seek to number my days when I work up the other morning. But, as I dove into my latest ThriveAP Book Club read on the treadmill, Spring Chicken: Stay Youg (or Die Trying), I set down the book the moment it mentioned an app that calculated the days one has left to live. Out of curiosity, I had to have the app. 99 cents later, I became acutely aware that my clock is ticking.

With the Days of Life app, users enter their brithday, gender, and country of residence. The user’s projected life expectancy is automatically calculated based on average life expectancy for the country of residence (this may be overridden). Then, the app simply tracks the number of days you are projected to live-daily push notifications optional.

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My main criticism of the app (besides the fact that I find it profoundly depressing), is that it’s calculation of life expectancy is rudimentary. I would love to see an app that takes into account risk factors like smoking, personal and family health history, diet and exercise habits, and other such factors that play into overall health. With these taken into account, I think I would find my life expectancy pie chart more appealing.

I would not, of course, recommend the Days of Life app to my patients. In general I promote health rather than it’s demise. But, it does make for some interesting personal reflection and discussion. While I find numbering my days a somber affair, others may see the glass half full. After all, 18,000 plus days does afford you some time to realize your goals. Depressing or inspiring, the app is a bit of a reminder to focus on what’s important.

I haven’t quite decided if I’m going to keep the Days of Life app. My anxiety over the visual of my life passing by is fading and the app has proven quite a good conversation starter at social gatherings.

Depressed or inspired? What do you think of the Days of Life app?


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