Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and one of the country’s leading health care experts, says by age 75 he would opt out of medical treatments in order to not prolong his life in favor of letting nature take its course. Emmanuel joins Judy Woodruff to discuss his provocative essay published in The Atlantic, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”….
So, as we age, as we get older, we are actually going to become healthier, that the falling apart, the disabilities, the dementia, they’re going to become ever smaller parts of life. And that was a very, very compelling theory, and a lot of people grabbed on to it.
Turns out that’s not true. The data are that, as we age, we have actually added more years of disability, so there’s not a compression of morbidity. There’s actually been an expansion, and that I think is — it’s somewhat distracting for people to realize, yes, we will live longer, but we will also live with more functional limitations, less able to move around, more mental limitations, more psychological depression, and other mental problems.
This quote came from a recent PBS Newshour report. Being a contrarian I look for alternative thought wherever I can find it and this is certainly one of those cases. In a country where hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually trying to cancel the normal aging effects, accepting our morbidity is not widely followed. We also know that almost half of our annual healthcare expenses are from the last month of life.
As pointed out in the interview, whenever someone talks about the normal again process there is someone who always points to a few people who have defied the odds and made valuable contributions well beyond the normal age of death at 75. Like most everything the effects of aging and death is a bell-shaped curve. There will be some who are very active and productive in their old age but they are the ones on the tiny upper edge of the curve. You might call them the 1%ers. Even as we show disdain for the financial 1%ers we all, at least in the back of our minds, dream of being in that group.
Getting personal now, I will turn 68 in the coming weeks and like almost everyone else that age I have seen my muscle mass decrease. I have moments where I get confused about what I was just thinking about and what I was intending to do. They calls these times “senior moments” for a reason. I joke that I think my warranty expired at age 60 and now everything is starting to fall apart. I accept that I will not be one of those 1%ers in this area. I will likely die in my mid to late 70s as did my father and grandfather.
Not prolonging my life beyond that age kind of appeals to me now but who knows what I will decide when that time comes. Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die to get there…..