How to solve the problem of an ageing population


What price would you pay to stay young? Apparently some people would be prepared to trade years for looks. Surgery and drugs to maintain the illusion of youth comes over as superficial , vain, a little desperate and an indication  of low self esteem. But what if it wasn't about looks but the vigour of youth, the energy and stamina, a guaranty of fitness and health but at the expense of a shorter life span.

Who wants to live longer if that means living with debilitating arthritis, short term memory loss, deteriorating eye sight and hearing loss ,loss of confidence and increased anxiety. Not that these are inevitable but if the average life expectancy is going to be a 100 then we can't expect our bodies to perform like they did when we were 50. But what if we could. What if you could take a daily combination pill that lowered cholesterol , decreased blood pressure , delayed the on set of arthritis and maintained a super efficient heart and lung function with only moderate regular exercise and a diet minus the excesses. The only down side would be that this increased efficiency would be at the expense of longevity. 

It would be as if the star that burned twice as bright burned half as long. Your body would stop ageing at 50 but totally burn out at 75. Of course it wouldn't stop you from being killed in a road accident or being blown up by a terrorist suicide boomer but your increased immune system would greatly reduce your chances of dying of cancer or developing dementia. The wonder drug would pretty much guarantee you were fit and health until you dropped dead some time in your 75th year. It's not science fiction we already have many of the ingredients it just requires a change of perspective and a refocusing of research. 

The government would be in favour as it would greatly reduce the demands on the NHS. The Pensions strain would disappear over night, people could retire at 60 knowing they had enough money to live on for the rest of their short but care free life. Of course you would miss out on the great grand children but just think about all that extra energy and time you would have for the grand children. If the norm was three score years and ten (plus a bit) you could plan accordingly and the debate around  " a good death" would be resolved. Why are we aiming to live longer when what we really want is to live better?


Blair McPherson author and blogger

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