ICBioethics Blog 

Will You Live to See 100?

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

A recent UK population-based observation study showed more people are living to be 100. Most commonly when these individuals die, it is simply due to old age frailty. They are not dying from the serious diseases that Medicine so avidly seeks to cure. Their bodies simply wear out due to aging processes. While this study mainly considered where most centenarians die (nursing home, hospital, own residence), I’d rather know about their self-perceptions and how others perceived them.

Research shows people living longer, not necessarily better. (Remember those elderly without terminal illnesses seeking assisted death from my previous blog?) Do we view old age as a terminal illness?

Aging is interesting to explore. Much of our culture seeks to prevent/minimize aging and its effects. We encourage people to eat healthy, exercise, and avoid UV exposure or dangerous chemicals, all to live longer or, better yet, to expand the youthful part of life. New cosmetics and supplements entice buyers hoping to reduce wrinkles and appear younger. Some reverse signs of aging through cosmetic procedures.

Are these good ways to deal with encroaching age? Do they improve lives? While living a healthy life is important, when does it become ridiculous – a futile obsession? You cannot look 21 forever! Should you try . . . is aging avoidable?!

Can Americans internalize a more satisfying model of aging—one that does not equate diminishing youthfulness with diminishing value? Maybe . . . but how and what would that look like?

Mitch GennusoComment