Life Expectancy Essay, Research Paper
Life expectancy today has expanded in historically unprecedented proportions, greatly increasing the numbers of people who survive over the age of sixty-five. The instances of medical problems associated with aging, such as certain kinds of cancer and heart disease, have increase, giving rise to great consideration, both in research and in programs, for accommodating this increase. Even, if a single dramatic medical discovery were to suddenly come about doubling the life expectancy of a human being, several major issues would result. Among them would be, the monetary drain of both the individual and federal/state programs, the physiological effects of aging, over population, resource depletion, and any new health problems not known about.
Today more than 100 nations have some form of social security program for the aged. The United States was one of the last countries to institute such programs. Not until the Social Security Act of 1935 was formulated to relieve hardships caused by the Great Depression were the elderly granted old-age pensions. In 1972 Congress also passed the Medicare Bill, which granted senior citizens limited health care coverage. The financial burden the United States alone would have to bare in order to cover all senior citizens from the age of 65 to a possible 160 would be tremendous and would bankrupt the economy. On an individual level, the financial burden of old age is draining. The cost of prescription drugs or the cost of living in a retirement home zaps one s savings in a matter of 5-10 years at the most. If a person were to live in this kind of environment for 30-40 more years, one would be in great debt, and in all likelihood be bankrupt.
A significant factor of the physiological aspects of old age concerns the values and education of the person itself. In industrialized countries especially, where changes occur more rapidly than in agrarian societies, a person born 65-150 years ago finds that the dominant morals, expectations, definitions of the quality of life, and roles of older people have changed considerably by the time they reach old age. Our society today is a highly technical society, with technology changing on a continual basis. Once a person reaches a certain age they tend to resist change. In a society like ours today, one must be able to keep up with the changing technology in order to survive.