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Thread: How long do you want to live?

  1. #1
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Default How long do you want to live?

    Based on a radio interview with a book author discussing longevity, ageing society, quality of life, medical care, end-of-life-care, care-givers, family dynamics....and expectations.

    It was mostly about the gaps between expectations and reality, the discussions we don't have with our family....or doctors....because it's uncomfortable to talk about life within the contexts of death. Plus the chasm between medical providers (whose goal is often extending life, at any/all costs), the patient (who may care more about quality of life and personal dignity), and their family (often swept up in impossible emotional decisions between the two).

    What struck me were the age references, mostly people in their late 70's or 80's...who've lived longer than their own parents did....and their middle-aged children facing care-giver challenges never experienced before. Not simply because medical science has advanced rapidly, but because our family and work dynamics are vastly different now.

    We already have one generation of retirees struggling to care for elder parents, with another generation of near-retirees close on their heels, and younger generations caught in the cross-hairs.

    Sooo, how long do you want to live? Are your wants based on realistic expectations? Do they come with any caveats?

  2. #2
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Until the day after the Feds capture kat.
    Hope is the denial of reality

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    Senior Member BalticSailor's Avatar
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    Until the day they outlaw calling homeopathy a form of medicine.

    Other than that, I guess I'm too young to seriously ponder upon such a question.
    It would be nice if we could get to a place where our community didn’t need a constant stream of fresh corpses to remind it how to behave.

    "Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible. They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth. And while they may have a dialogue, it's not a constructive one. Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science." - J.A.Coyne

  4. #4
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    So much for being serious

    Personally, I don't want to outlive my older siblings, or my crony group of friends. I especially don't want to live longer than my adult children's predicted lifespans. That would really suck....to bury everyone you've ever loved, alone in those memories, kinda hangin' out with longevity.

    No, I don't really want to live into my 90's, or "celebrate" my 100th birthday. It'd be wonderful to see my kids have their own kids, and become a grandmother.....but that's not my decision to make, no matter how long I might live.

    Where is Alberjohns when we need him?

  5. #5
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    I guess at least a Century. I don't want to think that I'm a third of the way through my life already and certainly not a half. Just as importantly though I hope the same for my friends and family.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

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    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    I guess at least a Century. I don't want to think that I'm a third of the way through my life already and certainly not a half. Just as importantly though I hope the same for my friends and family.
    You might live to 100, but your "friends and family" certainly won't. At least not according to current longevity statistics. You're in the demographic group of newlyweds and new parents in their late 20's or early 30's, with parents in their late 50's or early 70's, right?

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    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Let's assume that most people want to live as long as possible....at least a century, maybe more. Would that be possible or plausible when we already have over 6 Billion people on the planet, and growing?

  8. #8
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Surely it would be easier to support more elderly people if the global population continued to grow. It's certainly better than the alternative (look at Japan).
    Hope is the denial of reality

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    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

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    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Let's assume that most people want to live as long as possible....at least a century, maybe more. Would that be possible or plausible when we already have over 6 Billion people on the planet, and growing?
    Given we already have over 6 billion yes. As Loki said it'll probably be easier with more people than less.

    EDIT: Flixy:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Oh crap, should have thought of that one

    BTW, Loki's point doesn't stand if people live forever because their bodies stop ageing after, say, 30 or 40, so they can keep working. Assuming the pension age gets raised, or in that case eliminated, I suppose.
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  12. #12
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    The problem we have is at its roots a social rather than physical one. When a couple of generations ago the pension age was set it was set at an age where people couldn't really work at anymore, many would die before that age and the average was just a few years of retirement afterwards.

    Now people expect decades of retirement years. Physical activity barely plays into it. Raising the pension age is more of a tough choice socially and politically than it is phsyically. If it had kept up with health then it would already be much further than it is now.

    Democracy also amplifies demographic crises. As it is the elderly are more likely to vote than the young but as time goes on right now they make up a growing proportion of those who are both voting and drawing on the state's expenses without any longer contributing taxes. Politicians wanting to be elected are forced to pander to this expanding class while their benefits become virtually untouchable. Having a scenario where more voters do not work than do is concerning. In worst case scenarios this vicious circle gets even more aggrevated as young people struggle with the burdens piled on that they emigrate to other nations. This is already happening in many towns in Italy which struggles immensely demographically.

    A rising birth rate is a very good thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Oh sure, I agree, but if people actually lived forever you'd want a tiny birth rate.

    Also pretty much agreed with the rest of your post.

  14. #14
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    It depends. Not necessarily. We're a long way away from forever anyway though. The irony now is that the longer we live with our current system the more important it becomes to have more youngsters. If people had actually contributed to their own retirement rather than our current pay as you go defined benefits mess then that need not be true, but it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    It depends. Not necessarily. We're a long way away from forever anyway though. The irony now is that the longer we live with our current system the more important it becomes to have more youngsters. If people had actually contributed to their own retirement rather than our current pay as you go defined benefits mess then that need not be true, but it is.
    Actually, even if you had private savings for retirement you'd still run into problems with a high dependency ratio. It doesn't really matter how much wealth/capital has been accumulated if there's nowhere to invest it. As you get more and more old people who aren't working, their investment return will drop as easy methods of improving productivity among the working age run out of steam. As a result, it will become harder and harder to support an older population either way, whether by private savings or government support. One might be more fiscally sound and have marginally better results, but the big problem isn't going to be solved in an aging world.

  16. #16
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    As the old Irish joke goes about asking directions on how best to reach your destination: "I wouldn't start from here"

    Yes any ageing society will struggle, unless as Flixy said originally the retirement age were abolished though that isn't likely. However there are different degrees of struggling and difficulty. The more generous unfunded defined benefits you have the harder it will be. A better demographic mix would definitely help.

    It's worth noting that some countries have bigger problems than others just looking at demographics. The US and UK are in a far healthier position for example than much of continental Europe.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  17. #17
    I don't disagree that DB systems are a disaster from a fiscal perspective that gets exacerbated by aging populations, but in general a poor dependency ratio is a disaster irrespective of the type of funding. Hence Japan, SK and much of Europe vs. the US; all have DB systems of some sort (supplemented by private savings) but demographics are the big driver of economic problems, not a pay-as-you-go DB pension system. One is a symptom, not the problem.

    This is also why much of the hype about the Chinese economy is overblown. Just by sheer population they have an important economy that is going to continue to grow in importance for a number of years to come - but they're already starting to see their working age population shrink, and it's going to sharply fall off in the coming decades. This is likely to be a massive drag on the economy and a significant barrier to growth.

  18. #18
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I don't disagree that DB systems are a disaster from a fiscal perspective that gets exacerbated by aging populations, but in general a poor dependency ratio is a disaster irrespective of the type of funding. Hence Japan, SK and much of Europe vs. the US; all have DB systems of some sort (supplemented by private savings) but demographics are the big driver of economic problems, not a pay-as-you-go DB pension system. One is a symptom, not the problem.
    If you have one leg in a cast shooting yourself in the other foot is not going to help you walk. Yes a poor dependency ratio is a problem, a major problem not disputing it, but that is not the only problem by any means. We don't live in a black and white world where it is all one or all the other, we have gradients and how you cope is exacerbated or eleviated by what else you do. If we look across Europe which almost universally has had poor birth rates for a long time now but has quite a variety of economic systems in place we see some countries struggling much more than others. There is much, much more at play than just demographics alone. Those problems aren't going away and the demographics is only going to get worse to so if not addressed then the problems of recent years will look like a walk in the park.

    Our demographics are a problem if not addressed but at the least in the US, UK and many other countries if we plan accordingly and adapt we can easily cope with the ageing demographics. If we don't, then the problems can become a ticking timebomb. Doesn't mean the bomb will inevitably go off, it can be defused.
    This is also why much of the hype about the Chinese economy is overblown. Just by sheer population they have an important economy that is going to continue to grow in importance for a number of years to come - but they're already starting to see their working age population shrink, and it's going to sharply fall off in the coming decades. This is likely to be a massive drag on the economy and a significant barrier to growth.
    Agreed. I'm surprised they've still not gotten rid of the one child policy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    If you have one leg in a cast shooting yourself in the other foot is not going to help you walk. Yes a poor dependency ratio is a problem, a major problem not disputing it, but that is not the only problem by any means. We don't live in a black and white world where it is all one or all the other, we have gradients and how you cope is exacerbated or eleviated by what else you do. If we look across Europe which almost universally has had poor birth rates for a long time now but has quite a variety of economic systems in place we see some countries struggling much more than others. There is much, much more at play than just demographics alone. Those problems aren't going away and the demographics is only going to get worse to so if not addressed then the problems of recent years will look like a walk in the park.

    Our demographics are a problem if not addressed but at the least in the US, UK and many other countries if we plan accordingly and adapt we can easily cope with the ageing demographics. If we don't, then the problems can become a ticking timebomb. Doesn't mean the bomb will inevitably go off, it can be defused.
    I honestly think we more or less agree on this point. I just think that people often view the aging issue through a lens that is too focused on government finances and individual savings rather than broader macroeconomic trends that are much harder to change with smart policy. Yes, we absolutely can mitigate some of the worst problems relatively quickly through reforms to pensions, healthcare, changing incentives for saving, yadda yadda yadda. But the overall secular change in dependency ratios is going to screw even the best run economy if they don't have enough workers in their population. When you have a limited supply of workers but more and more capital to invest (the ideal outcome in a well-run but aging society) your only recipe for growth is to increase productivity. That's easy to do in a place like India but extremely hard to do in a place like the US, and returns on capital are thus quite low as a result.

    There are obviously ways to increase your workforce, but they either take a lot of time (e.g. cash incentives for having kids) or are zero sum in the global totality (increasing immigration). As our world in general is staring a a leveling of population sometime in the next century followed by rapid aging, we have to think about this strategically. Yes, places like the US or UK will continue to act as a magnet for immigrants and talent, which will help domestic considerations... but if global production is being squeezed by secular pressures, there's going to be a big problem no matter what.

    On a very broad macroeconomic scale, there's really nothing you can do to address the fact that within a few centuries we're going to be stuck at extremely anemic trend growth driven almost entirely by expensive improvements in productivity.

    Agreed. I'm surprised they've still not gotten rid of the one child policy.
    I question whether getting rid of the one child policy would really change that much any more. For one, it was always a pretty patchwork policy, but China's birthrate has still plummeted. For another, the cultural changes wrought by the policy are unlikely to bring Chinese fertility anywhere close to replacement level even if it was entirely scrapped. There are plenty of other Asian cultures without the same restrictive fertility rules which are in more or less the same mess - notably South Korea and Japan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Given we already have over 6 billion yes. As Loki said it'll probably be easier with more people than less.

    EDIT: Flixy:
    Woah mega flash back to when I was kid watching Highlander series!

  21. #21
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Love the musical additions.

    The tendency to take this to macroeconomics, birth demographics, finances, immigration and public policy is interesting, too. Addressing longevity is an issue fraught with all sorts of expectations....and emotions....surrounding death as much as life.

    If I live to be 100, I already know that would mean a degree cardio-pulmonary disease, some form of cancer, failing vision and hearing, loss of strength and agility, growing more frail and dependent. More doctor's appointments than business lunches or home parties.

    I'd lose my license to drive.

    Unless I moved to an urban hub with good public transportation, and low crime rates, I'd feel trapped. Would probably feel the same way if my kids moved me into their own homes, despite their good intentions. And I'd definitely feel caged in an Old Folks Home...even if it's a Retirement Village with a fancy, exclusive name that sounds like a Country Club.

  22. #22
    Under the influence Wraith's Avatar
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    I will choose my own time of death, and reject the right of any other agency or natural force to choose for me.

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    Senior Member DecoyMilk's Avatar
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    Old enough to know that I have imparted any wisdom I have onto my children

    Old enough to spend time with my grandchildren

    Young enough to still be able to look after myself and not experience regular amounts of pain. I don't wanna be one of those old people who are in a home because they can't look after themselves properly, neglected and a cause of guilt to my family who don't visit me enough. If I'm active till my late 70s then drop dead suddenly from a heart attack, that's fine by me. I don't want to be in regular pain, and I don't want a long drawn out illness. Fuck being in pain all the time.
    How do you expect to run with the wolves at night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?

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  24. #24
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Yeah, 75 sounds like a decent lifespan. Without becoming infirm, living in pain, or being a pain in the ass to my children or future generations. There's no way I can save/invest enough money to live independently beyond my 80's at this point, anyway.

    Many of today's elderly have "corporate pensions" from previous eras, or "state pensions" that are being cut or restructured in the current era. The little old lady across the street has buried 3 husbands, but lives quite nicely on their guaranteed (spousal) pensions, stock dividends, SS income, and Medicare. She's hovering around 90 +/-.


    I fall in the demographic gap between pensioners and 401-K accounts. My lifespan might be extended a decade or so, with good quality and little suffering, into my 90's. But only if we improve our Healthcare system, and that QOL wouldn't cause me to exhaust all personal assets...and live on the generosity of my kids and/or public assistance.

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