There is a point made on this blog post about the health of Americans that touches on something I’ve been thinking about.
As another large-scale study recently pointed out, longevity isn’t everything. The population as a whole is living longer than it was twenty years ago, but the number of those years spent in poor health are increasing as well.
It’s frequently noted that our lifespans are increasing, but I think that maybe another case where the statistics don’t tell the real story. I’ve been doing some music shows in what are essentially nursing homes as of late, and some of the people there… Jesus. They look like they’re alive in name only, and I really wonder if it’s really a service to them to keep them alive. I don’t know for certain, of course; no one does. Maybe these people are having the time of their lives inside their mental cocoon. But I do think simply measuring health by the number of years lived is a mistake.
Now, some of the people in these homes seem genuinely happy and engaged in life. Unfortunately happiness and engagement are much more difficult to measure. But maybe we should be trying.