Friday, December 16, 2016

The Pleasure of Discovery Means Living Better and Not Just Living Longer

Living longer is not always the same as living better and there is a 2016dec report that shows life expectancy in the U. S. has decreased for the first time since the aids epidemic of 1991...at mere 0.1 year. According to an NPR report, 28,000 more people died in 2015 as compared to 2014 and a CNS report suggests that the introduction of the U.S. affordable health care act may be at least partly responsible for killing these people.

However, living longer is not necessarily desirable if living longer means living in some chronic misery like the fog of dementia and so living longer is just one aspect of a desirable future. Feeling better as psychological well being, for example, increases 5 year survival rates from 65% to 78% for a sample of 6,030 older adults, for example.

<Maintaining Healthy Behavior: a Prospective Study of Psychological Well-Being and Physical Activity, Kim, E.S., Kubzansky, L.D., Soo, J. et al. ann. behav. med. (2016). doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9856-y>

A desirable future should include at least two other measures besides just living longer. Another important measure is, for example, the pleasure of discovery and compassion for others and yet another measure is earning the means and the resources for that discovery and compassion as well as to pay for sufficient health care when needed.  Both discovery and means are just as important for a desirable future as simply living longer. The human development index, HDI, includes the trimal of living longer, discovery, and per capita GDP among a number of other factors. In fact, any measure of a desirable future in a civilization should include at least these three metrics since living well is much more than just living longer.

So before going off on some singular tangent and putting more money into a healthcare system that is already very expensive, the U.S. should also consider how to increase the overall desirability of life and not just its length. People begin more rounding up along with the inexorable demographic percentages and so olders are especially sensitive to the message of not just living longer, but living better as well.

Without the selfish pleasure of discovery, a compassion for others, and some minimum skills and means, simply living longer is less desirable The friends and family that we have and the pleasure of further discovery and the ability to afford all of that is what determines purpose, not just living longer.