Death With Interruptions

Don’t forget to take this week’s survey: Aging and Mortality

In Death With Interruptions, Noble Prize for Literature winner, Jose Saramago tackles a very difficult subject in an almost absurd manner answering the question: What if no one died? The topic immediately made me think of Aubrey de Grey and his declaration that humans are within grasp of a increased life expectancy to 150 years old. The thought to me is bone chilling.

In my study of aging services, I often wondered: What if life expectancy continues to rise but the frail end up suffering longer?

Although my question and Saramago’s are different, they could begin to unfold the same way. But what I want to explore is something Jose revealed on page 6, “…humanity’s greatest dream since the beginning of time, the happy enjoyment of eternal life here on earth….”

In Good EarthPearl S. Buck illustrates children waiting for the passing of their father so they can inherit the land and move on to a new generation of exploration. Similar to heirs of a monarchy, Wang Lung’s children do not make changes to the estate until they take ownership, but plans are ready to execute at the moment of his final breath. If the old generation doesn’t turn over to time, no progress is made and life lays stagnant. So how would it be possible to enjoy eternal life here on earth? Doesn’t excitement surround life and death? Eternal life is like the concept of peace and tranquility, it lacks chaos and conflict – like the conflict of night and day and the rising tide.

These thoughts led me to my recent study on aging and mortality. According to the 2009 Vital Statistics report, the average age at death in the US is 78.2 years and the top causes of death are:

1 Heart disease
2 Cancer
3 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
4 Stroke
5 Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6 Alzheimer’s disease
7 Diabetes mellitus
8 Influenza and pneumonia
9 Kidney disease
10 Intentional self-harm (suicide)
11 Septicemia (infection)
12 Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13 Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease
14 Parkinson’s disease
15 Assault (homicide)

One thought would be people are scared of dying and, therefore, put the idea out of their minds and avoid preparing for the retirement years. Another hypothesis is people are fearful of aging, so focus is put on anti-aging solutions. A third idea is that people fall in the mob mentality, if everyone is dying at 78.2 years of age from heart disease, then I should too.

Come next week, the survey results will reveal at what age do people think they will die, and of what cause. We will know if the fear aging or dying is more prevalent and what scares people most about old age. I wonder if the younger you are, the more frightened you are….maybe, maybe not. But we are sure to find out.

Check back next week for the survey results.


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