Are We Living Too Long?
An article that I read on Medium the other day about caring for aging parents triggered a chain reaction of thoughts that led to this article explaining why I don’t want to live forever.
There’s a huge interest in extending life expectancy. Huge!
Did you know that there are very rich people who have developed an avid interest in living forever, even willing to become human guinea pigs in some very unusual experiments to achieve that goal? Furthermore, scientists have been predicting for some time that we may be on the cusp of extending the average lifespan once again.
The last time we did that was around 1950.
That’s right, we doubled the average lifespan around 1950, but we didn’t actually improve the quality of life. This time, if they’re successful, scientists hope to improve quality of life as well. Living longer and living better.
I don’t want to live forever.
A nice age to die, in my opinion, is around 78, but that’s now considered too young to die by many. Whatever! I understand. If we aren’t very self aware, we can begin to think that our presence on this planet is far more important than it really is, I fear.
Did you know that many centuries ago, the concept of grandparents wasn’t fully developed yet, because few people lived long enough to become grandparents.
The life expectancy was around 30ish. Humans started giving birth around age fourteen and if their baby survived long enough to have a baby of their own, mom was already dead.
People often forget how short the average lifespan was back in the day.
The article about caring for aging parents triggered a thoughts. Things I think about a lot these days now that I’ve had the priviledge of growing old. Of course, much of the article stressed how burdensome caring for an elderly parent could be and frankly, the comment section corroborated with that position. I mean when parents live well beyond the average lifespan, who’s ready and willing to take care of them? Even loving parents can become a burden and a well of guilt. Never mind the parents who were selfish, even abusive assholes.
Many good points were made by caregivers about the cost and heavy workload, as well as the challenges of managing without community support.
The flip side of this essay could easily be an admonishment to parents about the pitfalls of expecting their children to be their caregivers. That’s not always practical or wise expectation. Yet, many do. In fact, I’ve heard childless people worry out loud that they’ll have no one to care for them when they’re old. I want to remind them that even if a couple has six children, there’s no guarantee that even one of them will willingly and cheerfully become a dedicated caregiver.
I have two wonderful kids who I know love me, but I simply do not want them to take care of me.
I am so adamantly opposed to it that if I was unable to care for myself, I think I’d strongly consider euthanasia. I’m too independent and too much of an introvert to move in with anyone.
I’m definitely not interested in living forever.
The super rich can have at if they want. This has been an interesting ride, but there’s been a lot of disappointments as well. I register high on the empathy scale, so I lose a lot of sleep whenever I’m reminded that something isn’t fair or that people and animals suffer.
I’ve probably used more than my share of natural resources, too.
Most importantly, if my mind began to deteriorate, I’m out of here, buddy. I’m a cerebral being, a mind with body that I drag wherever I go. If I’m not able to use my brain to explore my own existence then I see no point whatsoever.
At any rate, I’ve concluded that there are plenty of people who want to live forever or at least well beyond age 78 if at all possible.
They may complain a lot throughout their lives, but the idea of not existing is an affront to their sense of importance in the universe. They want to live at all costs.
There’s also plenty of people who will refuse to care for their aging parents and or do it but resent doing so.
Their personal relationships with their parents when they were younger were varied and often far from perfect. Their struggles with modern life as adults also may not leave much opportunity to become a full time caregiver.
Yet, I also run across a lot of people my age and older who feel as I do.
We never bargained for a long life at the expense of our independence. Even though our doctors are obligated to keep us alive regardless of how compromised our health and mental capabilities have become, we object.
Are we living too long?
I think in an attempt to save young lives, we’ve also extended old lives to the point where they’re forced to be here when they no longer want to be.
If scientists succeed in extending life while also improving the quaity of life will that make things better? I don’t know.
There may be a good reason that Mother Nature seems so fond of planned obsolescence.
Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.