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Why I Hope to Die at 75

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A powerful and provocative statement about what it means to want to live until age 75. I sort of suspect that many doctors actually handle their own geriatric health decisions roughly as described here. The author is not suicidal, by the way.

It's a well written article that explains the reasoning behind his decision.

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.

Good goal, but when I see my parents approaching 75, I hope everyone else lives longer. 

My parents are that age too and doing OK at the moment. But obviously the tragedy of old age is that aging becomes discontinuous -- as my mother loves to note, "Old man is like used car... it's running OK today but you never know about tomorrow". When you're 25, you don't expect to have a sudden breakdown in physical health or mental acuity at 26, and most people don't... but when you're 80, there is no guarantee you will be the same person in a year.

The longer I live the more I believe that quality of life matters more than quantity.

Great article; thank you so much for sharing that.

It really makes me think about how much we should appreciate health while we have it. 

And now we have to remember that we must fight for it with all our daily choices.

Including -- but not limited to -- planning retirement:

Retirement -  any retirement, not just a *comfortable* one - is no longer a given:

As the nation recovers from the Great Recession, the share of workers 60 and older who plan to postpone retirement is dropping, according to a February survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Today, 53 percent said they would keep working past age 66, down from 66 percent in 2010.

In another 2015 survey, by CareerBuilder, 54 percent of workers 60 and older say they will work again after retirement — up from 45 percent last year — with 81 percent of them hoping for part-time employment, and one in six of them planning to focus on a dream or passion.

But researchers are learning that what boomers say and what they do are two different things.

Half of all U.S. workers 45 to 64 have chronic health conditions, for example, and this is the leading cause of early retirements — with age discrimination in the workplace cited as a runner-up. The current average retirement age is still 62.

British social gerontologist Christopher Phillipson says researchers are perplexed when it comes to predicting how individual older workers' decisions will play out around the world.

“The ending of mandatory retirement has created a lot of uncertainty in the field,” Phillipson says. “We don't have an agreed-on language for talking about these issues. People have to negotiate exits at some point. Does that increase rather than decrease age discrimination?

“Have we reinvented retirement as a risk rather than a reward?”

HALF of all US workers 45 to 64 have chronic health conditions?? That is truly shocking and I'd like to see the data. I suspect this number lumps in a lot of people like me, who have to pop a pill on the regular but are otherwise healthy and active, with people who are who have truly debilitating back injuries etc.

A regionally true statement ...for West Virginia.

A chronic health condition could be something like hypertension, right?

Found this action-packed article while I was Googling around for the data:

The high-order bit is that health is the wild card in financial planning. Not only do even very sophisticated consumers not plan for health care costs in old age, but half of the retirees surveyed had to retire early -- cutting into their nest eggs -- due to health care. So in old age, health really IS wealth.

But here is where things get amazeballs: the study found 4 health styles among Boomers.

1. Healthy and Proactive (29 percent) individuals who take charge of their health care and related finances. They are the most actively engaged in healthy behaviors such as exercise and eating well, have the most positive attitude about their health and also feel well-prepared for health care costs in retirement.

2. Lucky but Lax (10 percent) individuals who have been fortunate to be relatively healthy so far, but exhibit little interest in taking care of themselves or planning for future health care costs, leaving them vulnerable to future, unexpected health disruptions.

3. Course-correcting and Motivated (29 percent) individuals who have experienced a health “wake-up call,” such as an illness or diagnosis, and are now trying to improve their health by seeking out information and tools, as well as adopting healthier behaviors.

4. Challenged and Concerned (32 percent) individuals who are struggling with health difficulties, yet many are not actively taking good care of their health. They are the most worried about the impact of illness on their finances, and feel overwhelmed and confused.

So despite the desire of Boomers to live forever, only 29% of them have actually taken care of themselves on a lifelong basis. The rest of them must try to make up by medical science what they neglected through daily lifestyle. And it sounds like they fully intend to! Boomers think that they can extend their lives 10 full years through aggressive medical technology.

The irony is that I think the people who have taken charge of their health early are also the ones who are the most realistic about death -- probably because they are most cognizant of the difference between an active life and just living. My parents, who are 100% in the "Healthy and Productive" category, are able to discuss their future plans and fears pretty darn rationally because they have such a clear idea of what "health" means to them. Obviously also true of the author of the original Atlantic article here. It's sad to think of all the people with chronic health conditions who feel overwhelmed and confused by all the information out there... and yet they'll be the ones costing the health care system the most.

Fascinating read, Joyce. 

Money and health really are tied together. 

See also this Monte Carlo simulation of how many years you have left to live:

For some reason I'm reminded of this posthaven post by Garry Tan two years ago:

Kansas City sportswriter Martin Manley committed suicide yesterday at the age of 60. Before his death, he posted a website explaining why he did it. He still had his health, his mind, and felt that he had contributed everything he could to society at that point. 

On why he posted his website, he writes

It’s incredible what is lost to history. Even one generation back, so little is really known about the vast, vast majority of people. It’s a shame - especially considering existing technology has enabled us to store everything ever said, done or thought by every person on earth a thousand times over. There is no reason lives have to continue to be forever forgotten. Everyone can be remembered if they put in the effort to be remembered in some concrete form rather than simply being dependent upon fading memories of those who knew the deceased person.

From beyond the grave, it is a particularly striking thought. The technology exists to store everything ever said or done, and the cost is coming down all the time. I hope that's what Posthaven can be. It'd be nice to leave something behind. But there is much left to do to make that happen.

He did NOT have his mind! Here is the quote:

I began seeing the problems that come with aging some time ago. I was sick of leaving the garage door open overnight. I was sick of forgetting to zip up when I put on my pants. I was sick of forgetting the names of my best friends. I was sick of going downstairs and having no idea why. I was sick of watching a movie, going to my account on IMDB to type up a review and realizing I’ve already seen it and, worse, already written a review! I was sick of having to dig through the trash to find an envelope that was sent to me so I could remember my own address – especially since I lived in the same place for the last nine years!

He was only 60 years old and was already "sick of" not being able to remember his own address? That isn't exactly what health means to me.

Thank you for that correction. I was wondering why anyone who had his mind would want to die at 60.

I have been ill for 45 years and am finally well. 

I am just getting started in living.  The argument is modern medicine lacks the primary understanding of the treatment of disease and is focused almost entirely on the treatment of effects not causes. 

The best thing I ever did was renounce doctors 20 years ago. 

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