Longevity research Essay

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Today, a great amount of people have learned to enjoy life once again as a senior in the community.

This would speak of those in the 70’s and beyond. Life expectancy for Americans, which was a mere 49 years in 1900, has now increased to around 76 years. This we can say is due to improvements in health care, nutrition, and the overall standard of living. Not only are people living longer, but they are becoming more active in their older age, relative to elderly of the past.

More older Americans are able carry out their own “instrumental activities of daily living” (Hodes 2003) As such, the desire for life has grown and billions have been poured into longevity research, an undertaking meant to discover ways and means to extend life. A vast motivation in science has been well-funded to discover how to keep man alive longer, with its aim toward more and more years. (Douglas 2006) There are concerns however one must view in light of this, namely, will a society with many living over a hundred years be actually as beautiful as it seems to present? The first concern would be the quality of life given that although the body may be kept health, the brain will be aging. Surely, the mind at the age of 110 is not as lucid as that of one at the age of 60.

There are many diseases that correlate with the aging brain, but let us use the more common Alzheimer’s disease as an example. This is a devastating condition that has been seen to have a profound impact on individuals, families, the health care system, and society as a whole. Demographic studies suggest that if the current trends maintain themselves, the annual number of incident cases of this disease will begin a sharp increase in the year 2030 thereabouts. (Alzheimer’s association 2009) This will be a time that people born between 1946 and 1964 will all be over 65 years. Studies further show that by the year 2050, the number of Americans with the disease could double. Imagine these implications.

It’s true that people live longer, but then what quality of life can one have if he lives 20 years more but has lost memory of his family and friends. This disease accounts for around 50-50% of cases of dementia. With increase longevity, there will be a large increase in the prevalence of the disease as people will be living to be older.

It can be such difficulty to the individual to live in a condition where for years he is grasping at memories that he cannot recall. It’s an incredible burden to the family as well, as they will now be responsible for more elderly, living longer lives, incapable of self care, and maybe even incapable of recognizing kin. Imagine a scenario where a parent is 110 years old, their child being 85 and their grandchild at 60, how would it be feasible for the turn of care to pass from parent to child in such a scenario where all are classifiable as aged. A second concern is that apart from the aging mind, there is also the aging body.

It is true that the individual will be living long, but then there are multitudes of risks that will accompany this. The wear and tear from all the years will now set in as he will now be more prone to multitudes of disease as years go by. Sicknesses like arthritis of the joints, a heart attack, stokes, cataracts, diabetes and many more will all now be factors that come into play. Even worse, should the person gain a long-playing debilitating condition, one with no cure such as the case of Alzheimer’s previously mentioned, then again what kind of quality of life can he sustain? Let’s take a stroke for example.

Currently, a stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Statistics show that over 143,579 people die each year in the United States from this condition. Now in terms of long term disability, stroke is the leading cause as people may live on with their life span after a completed stroke. Furthermore, having a stroke does not mean that a person cannot have another one to further cause disability. Now, it is seen that nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65.

It is also noted that the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55. (Internet Stroke Center 2009) This is not even accounting for those who go through strokes at a young age. Now, given this data, imagine the risk for one who is to live until 120 years old. Imagine if a large bulk of population were to live this long, then the worldwide prevalence of stroke survivors would be high. After a stroke, it is very possible for one to lose control of speech, of movement in half a body, of mobility, and sometimes even requiring full time nursing care. The implications on a person and a family would be immense.

Given that strokes occur generally in people over 65, imagine having one at 70 and then living for 40 more years. How would one survive that lone without the capacity to communicate. It’s true that one can live with the heart beating, but the question is in terms of quality of life. Another concern that also affects health will be the incidence of depression.

A longer life for one spouse would mean having to live through the death of loved ones. Longevity increases the number of years one would live past the death of a spouse and family. Studies can increase life but imagine a scenario where a parent has to live past his spouse children and grandchildren. Again, the concern regarding quality of life comes in play is emotional makeup is indeed a very important aspect of human life. Rebecca Utz, a sociologist at ISR stated: “While only about 6 percent of widowed persons had serious financial problems since their spouse died, 63 percent reported less income and 34 percent said their financial strain increased significantly after they were widowed.

The negative economic consequences are even more pronounced for women than they are for men, and the declines are lasting, not a temporary drop associated with funeral expenses or estate planning. ” (About. com 2009) This itself is proof of how one’s death can affect an individual, not only in terms of health and emotion, but in terms of capability to function as well. Increasing longevity means increasing the chances that people will outlive one, or even more spouses, and have to deal with many deaths for many years. Depression rates will increase as a consequence of spouses living well past their mates, their children and maybe even their grandchildren.

A study conducted showed that eighty-four (24%) of 350 widows and widowers met criteria for depressive episodes at 2 months, 72 (23%) of 308 did so at 7 months, and 46 (16%) of 286 did so at 13 months, further supporting this claim that depression and emotional consequences of too much longevity should be of concern. (Zisook, S & Shuchter, S. 1991) A fourth point that should raise concern for biologic implications for longevity revolve around care for the elderly. Today, families turn to nursing homes and assisted living to give the elderly the care and attention they need.

The alarming factor now revolves around what actual care they are receiving in these places, as a congressional report made by CBS news correspondent Bill Whitaker previously stated that around 1,600 U. S. nursing homes, nearly one-third of all in total, have been cited for abuse. These reported abuses were of various types, spanning from physical, sexual and verbal. All abuse in all these forms is on the rise. The report further noted that that more than twice as many nursing homes were cited for abuse in 2000 than in 1996. It was further seen that in 1,601 nursing homes , around 1 in 10 abuse citations were made in serious incidents.

By serious, it was meant that they either put residents at great risk of harm, injured them or killed them. (CBS news 2001) Imagine how greatly the health of these poor elderly could be affected by increased longevity. Already at this current time with our elderly, society is unable to provide adequate care for them, and resorting to nursing homes and various assisted living environments that have led to elderly abuse. What more an increase can be expected if people were to live into the hundreds.

The population would have a drastic increase in the aged, thus increasing the burden on society to care for them. If at this current day and age, society already is unable to manage the abuse problem, then the health implications of longevity are grave in that they will aggravate the abuse by increasing the number of elderly left alone. Investigators have further said that many violations are neither detected nor reported, which leads officials to conclude that the problem is even underestimated. Surely, if society cannot currently manage the elderly and provide a good, healthy and safe environment for them, then there is no way that society can do so after a further increase in the aged that longevity research will bring.

My fifth and final concern regarding longevity lies in the fact that it will now place a large amount of population that has needs to be fulfilled but cannot fulfill them on its own. Increasing longevity will increase the number of senior citizens and the number of nonworking elderly dependent. The health concerns for this are immense, as the question that can now be raised is regarding who in society will provide for the health of these individuals who cannot earn a living for themselves. CDC research concerns states that the increased number of people with ages over 65 will potentially lead to increased health-care costs.

The health-care cost per capita for persons from the age group over 65 years in the United States is three to five times greater than the cost for persons below that age. (CDC 2003) Imagine how this will increase if people were to live 20 years longer. Currently, the number of persons aged >65 years is anticipated to rise by around thirty five million in 2000 to the estimated 71 million in 2030. Durability will even maximize this number. Eventually, while resources can decline, after that there will certainly not be enough economic support to compliment the old, leading to substandard healthcare and health risks.

Presently there may not be enough to provide these medical requirements, particularly for the reason that working population may be outnumbered by the based mostly elderly nonworking populous. Consequently, in conjunction with a number of other previously reviewed claims, the promise of longevity, although seemingly luring, may not specifically be as, wonderful as it seems to be. FUNCTIONS CITED About. com: Mental health (2009) ‘Losing a Spouse: What Hurts and What Allows [online] Obtainable from[April 6, 2009] Alzheimers association (2009) ‘What is Alzheimer’s'[online] Offered from[April 6, 2009] CBS TELEVISION STUDIOS news (2001) ‘Nursing House Abuse Increasing’ [online] Available from[April 6, 2009] CDC (2003) ‘Public Health and Maturing: Trends in Aging — United States and Worldwide’ MMWR weekly[online] Available from[April 6, 2009] Douglas, J. (2006) ‘New durability research center launched to examine supercentenarians’ Normal News [online] Available by< http://www. naturalnews. com/020701. html>[April six, 2009] Hodes, 3rd there�s r. (2003) ‘Human Longevity and Aging Research’. Special Committee on Ageing [online] Offered from[April 6, 2009] Internet Stroke Middle (2009) ‘Stroke Statistics’ [online] Available via[April 6, 2009] Zisook, T & Shuchter, S. (1991) ‘Depression through the first 12 months after the loss of life of a spouse ‘ Are J Psychiatry [online] Readily available from[April 6, 2009]

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