75 Years of Life Is Quite Enough, Says U.S. Health Authority
There is a point beyond which life is no longer worth living, both because of diminished mental and physical capacities, and because of how the living will remember us.
Ezekiel Emanuel, director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is raising awareness about the complexities of end-of-life care by publicly declining to receive any life-prolonging medication after the age of seventy-five—even antibiotics. There is a point beyond which, he argues, life is no longer worth living, both because of diminished mental and physical capacities, and because of how the living will remember us:
"Doubtless, death is a loss. ... In short, it deprives us of all the things we value. But...living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic."
No doubt many of us know someone over the age of seventy-five who lives a full life. My grandfather, who is approaching eighty, is one of them. Emanuel admits that seventy-five is a somewhat arbitrary number, but he says it's worth defending if it can keep some people from becoming cogs in the medical establishment's machine.
Richard Dawkins, in his Big Think interview, argues that a certain arrogance accompanies our quest for immortality, or at least our quest to live as long as we possibly can despite the consequences:
Read more at BBC Future
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.
- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.