After writing the post yesterday “All men must die“, it seemed fortuitous today to read an editorial in The Medical Post entitled “You gotta die of something“. Dr. Murray Waldman’s essay notes that extensions to life expectancy are limited by human life span. The oldest human on record died at 122. We are all going to die. What will die from if not heart disease or cancer or infection?
The answer is neurodegenerative diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and similar currently uncommon conditions. All these diseases have two characteristics: They have no effective treatment and their incidence rises extremely sharply after the age of 90.
This should be an alarm bell to those working in the field of life-prolonging technologies. If there is an absolute limit to human life expectancy and that limit appears to be approaching quickly, should we not pause and re-examine what we are trying to achieve?
Living long enough to die of Alzheimer’s or some similar disease is a fate most of us would not wish on ourselves or our loved ones.
I don’t want to live to 120 if the last 30 years are spent suffering from dementia and wearing diapers in a nursing home. No thank you.