The wrong metrics

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.

3 Responses to “The wrong metrics”


  1. John Saleeby

    Eh, we’re getting into a dangerous area when we’re looking at people to see if there’s any point in allowing them to go on living or not.

    Although, after a coupla days with this cold I’d be more than happy if someone came over and shot me in the head two or three times tonight.

    I’ll leave my door unlocked!

  2. Wil

    I’m not saying we just look at people and decide whether they should live or die.

    We should poke at them a bit too.

  3. John Saleeby

    Fuck! I left my door unlocked all night but nobody shot me! They stole my collection of Commander Cody And The Lost Planet Airmen records but they didn’t shoot me! I have been robbed by Commander Cody And The Lost Planet Airmen fans! Fans? I have been robbed by Commander Cody And Those Fucking Airmen!

    I’m gonna make them wish they’d shot me!