Old People: Individual Blessing or Societal Disaster?
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April 23, 2004
“Old People: Individual Blessing or Societal Disaster?”
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in combination with New Jersey Medical School held a symposium on April 30 dealing with the topic of aging in our American society. One of the sessions on the agenda for the symposium dealt with whether or not aging in our society was a blessing or a disaster. I found the introduction to the presentation to be an interesting article, and I can imagine that the actual presentation in April was impressive.
The article basically questioned the recent changes that have been with life expectancy in our country. Primarily, the age group that this presentation targeted was the population of the elder community -those over the age of 65. It states that there have been studies done that show that the population of our entire nation could rise 5x to what it is now (6 billion), within the dawn of the next century. It also states that the average age at the beginning of the 20th century was about 49, and here in the 21st century it is pushing 80. Who is to say that it wont double again?
The article stated that while life expectancy for people today is 77, with current technology and current beliefs, it may not be long before life expectancy is 95, and for that matter, 110 years old. If people begin living to such an age, what will life be like? The article suggests that there should be some kind of limit or boundary placed on the advancements currently taking place in the medical society.
While there are currently scientists and companies trying to create age-halting drugs, the article points out that there is absolutely no debate about the issue or the perils of such an ordeal. Part of developing as a human is the aging process. If suddenly, aging is no longer part of the life cycle, there will be major changes on the planet. I also think that an important part of the life cycle is learning how to deal with death. At several times in my life, I have imagined what it would be like to live forever; I dont think that it should be possible. The success of elongating peoples lives could lead more humans to become involved in trying to enhance human life, without carefully considering the outcomes.