Friday, December 2, 2011

80 is Not the New 65

Here is the type of talk that drives me crazy.

Watch this video (I can’t embed it), here.

The constant hype that people will live forever is so stupid.  And, with living longer, they will also work longer.

Back in 1900 when the average life span was about 49 that argument was likely true because there was extra capacity in the human body.  Today, with average life spans in the high 70s, do you really think you’ll be productive after 70? I doubt it.  Most people can't do it physically, mentally, or both.

A small percentage of the population will do this.  I suggest it will be a smaller percentage than most think, less than 20 percent. 80 percent of the elderly need a lot of care, they live propped up on medications, spend too much time in doctor’s offices, and likely have senior moments when they can’t remember anything. The point is that the body is not genetically able to perform at peak levels after age 70.  Ever play golf with old duffers? They talk about one day of golf leading to two days of rest.  If you watch elderly people, they tend to stair step down in their abilities.

In the book the Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism Robert Fogel described how in American history our population's health and stature has vacillated between highs and lows.  In the late 18th century there was a high; people lived longer and stature was robust (eg. George Washington was over 6 feet and not considered overly tall).   By the end of the 19th century average health and stature had diminished greatly.  Over the 20th century both longevity and stature rose again.

Now in the early 21st century I suggest that the trend reverses, stature and longevity will decline.  At the end of recent Apollonian eras (Enlightenment, Modernism) overall health has been better across the population.  At the end of recent Dionysian eras (late 17th century; Romanticism) overall health has been worse.

In other words, since we are in another Dionysian era, be prepared for a big decline in the overall quality of life for most of the population lasting several decades.   If you take care of yourself, you can be part of that 20 percent who live well longer.

Update April 29, 2012:
see the  essay by Mish which is a response to this.

1 comment:

  1. Not related to current post, but wanted to let you know "Age of Intuition" is included in an attempt at comprehensive anthropology blog list and through 31 December, can vote to include in 10 best anthropology blogs.