Just how long are we supposed to live? Is living longer better?

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On the discussion board there is an article on seniors taking incredible amounts of drugs. Seems like so many people are on big time blood thinners with bionic pacemakers that last a long time. If you study the Bible we are promised 70 years, 80 if in good health. Please do not take this the wrong way, but when we artificially keep people alive with drugs and technology, at the end they still can have poor quality of life. As shown on this forum, so many people are outliving their life savings, living longer than their children and caregivers. Is it really worth it? I have a 94 and 101 year old in my life. These are 2 of the most miserable creatures ever. I have to look at them and think about if that is how I want to be at the end. I don't think so. I wonder if at the age of 90 I would stop taking blood thinner, heart drugs and turn off the pace maker and let nature take its intended course.

Folks, I have no intention of offending anyone. Each person's life is their own! But I am interested in what this group's take is on this subject.


Interesting question, mince, and one a cab driver asked me when I told him I was visiting my103 yr. old mother. He asked me if I would want to live that long.

I think that some medical procedure/medications prolong dying as opposed to prolonging living. Enormous expenditures are incurred on the last years/months of life for many.

My mother is miserable too, but then she has a personality disorder and has been angry all her life, She cannot act out as she used to and I think the anger has turned to misery. For me, the quality of life is important. My daughter and I have talked about it as we have a long lived family and she is quite clear than she would rather like a shorter life of better quality. She does not want her life dragged out - not that we always have a choice and she is not in favour of euthanasia. One grandmother had Alz for about 20 years and died age 97; however, she was always adaptable and was not unhappy so her quality of life was reasonable most of that time.Contrast that to her other grandmother (my mother) who is 103 and miserable. Mother says the only solution to her misery is to die, but she continues to take her supplements BP meds etc. Would it be kinder to stop all these "assists" - basically withhold medical treatment and allow what is happening to happen at a "normal" rate. There are ethical issues here I am sure. What will happen instead is that she will get treated for the depression with more drugs and I hope they help her, but you do wonder...
I get your point. I suppose it depends on the person. Some people are sharp and healthy in mind and body, even in their hundreds. I have seen two people in their hundreds running a 5K recently on tv! One was a woman and one was a man.

I suppose that if you are sharp and healthy, you want to stay that way, so the medications will help. But, hopefully, they will help ward off things like stroke, which can cause dementia.

I am a Type I diabetic and have been afraid of organ failure, amputations, etc. for years, but now I more afraid of dementia than anything else. So, I work extra hard to control my blood sugar, due to this potential. I honestly think that if everyone diabetic could tour a Memory Care facility, they would start better blood sugar control.

It's my understanding that many medications are discontinued for those with terminal illness when they are under palliative care and/or hospice. I think that is reasonable. I don't understand it when I hear of a person who is terminally ill with advanced disease in their 90's, with no awareness of their surroundings to be pumped full of preventative medication. I guess it's up to the family.

My parents are 75 and 78 years old. They are pretty active and my dad can work harder than my nephew who is 21! I'm not kidding. He still cuts grass, pull weeds, does jobs around the house, has yard sales, helps others, etc. He had a quadruple bypass in 1999! And yes, he takes all those meds that heart patients take. He loves his ice cream though and I don't say a word about what he eats. I think he's earned it.
I am reminded of the Raymond James commercial of a "life well planned" showing librarian Emily Skinner who was riding a motor cycle and sky gliding at a age of 187. Ok, if we are guaranteed that our life would be like Ms. Skinner, then I am all for it.

Otherwise, I feel if I can no longer contribute to society, such as doing volunteer work, then forgetaboutit.... if I no longer know who I am, why keep on living.
It's all about the quality of life. Far too many elders have gone waaaaay beyond any realistic life span and are kept alive with meds and medical intervention. It's sometimes hard to reason that our quality of life has passed. Then survival instinct kicks in and we accept all that modern medicene has to offer or its forced on us by relatives who can't let go no matter how horrible life is. This is why advanced directives are so important. No one seems to think of it till it's too late.
Living longer is not better.
Absolutely not. I don't want to be kept artificially alive and pray I go peacefully in my sleep. My mom and dad (86 and 84) have declined this past year and it's been a reality check for me as they have always been fairly healthy. My mom is type II diabetic and I think now has some type of dementia though she'll never go to get tested. They both have the caterer's death delight of problems: high blood pressure, vascular disease, cholesterol, heart, afib, on down the line and a drug or two for every one of them which stinks to have to take so many. Those are just the physical problems, won't go into the mental and emotional ones that contribute to their ill health.

Over the years I pleaded with my mom to do better with keeping her diabetes under better control. Not that she was or is terrible, but when trying to help her before she got to this stage I got shouted down so I shut up after a while. Anytime now a PCP or specialist wants to do a procedure or anything that will put them under I tend not to like that option because the memory gets worse and other problems seem to crop up, though she is blind in one eye and needed surgery to save the other, so I thought that was worth it and she's recovered fairly well though it was bumpy.

They will not address advanced directives or anything that will make it a little less painful for me when the time comes. Just not happening. I'm trying to live a better life in all aspects in hopes I may age well. But when it's time to go, it's time to go.
Advanced Directives are so important but we need to think even earlier. There can be alot of years between the time one can no longer live on their own or care for themselves and their death. People really need to self evaluate and determine what is a good quality of life is for themselves. We need to have the courage to say "NO" to medical care if it doesn't improve the quality of our lives but only prolongs our days. No matter how much we love those we are caring for, it is a burden. It isn't a nice thing to say but it is truthful as I think many of you would agree. Do we want to put our families through this? We need to make firm decisions about our lives and make sure our families know our plans. I am grateful for this caregiving experience in that it has made me aware of my own mortality. I've made plans that I'm comfortable with and have informed my family. We can't fully control our futures but we can do our best to make them less problematic.
Thank goodness my parents had Advanced Directives put into place a few months ago.... whew. My Mom was still active for being 97 and one fall a few weeks ago has changed her life completely. She bounces from hospital to rehab and now back to the hospital, and next probably long term care. It's just a watch and wait.

I know my Dad said not that long ago that he never expected that he and Mom would live this long.
I do not want to live past my mind being good. I do not want to live so long there is nobody left who knows me, and I've seen all my friends and close family go before me.

My mother is only 78, but she has advanced dementia and is in hospice, unable to do anything for herself, unable to understand, unable to talk much, and only really reacts to pain. Incontinent, atrophying, confused, and frequently combative, but her vitals are strong even with kidney disease on top of it all. If it were up to me, I'd take her off everything but happy pills and let nature lead the way.

Doctors and facilities are so litigation-averse they do too much in my opinion to avoid any kind of charge of negligence. Just because there is a procedure that can prolong life doesn't mean it's a good idea.

The ethics involved put so many people into an awful spiral. Healers heal, not facilitate death. Do no harm.

Maybe we need a type of professional that doesn't exist. Someone who can take over from a doctor for the last stage of life when healing isn't possible and it's time to head to the exit. Someone who can make that transition safe, easy, and peaceful.

I truly don't want to be a human blob wasting away in a bed, waiting on death. Wrap me in warm blankets and let me have a nice morphine overdose.
I was just reading another thread where someone's poor FIL was bouncing between memory care and the ER, was on 20 different meds, wife had dementia, just hanging on day to day. I remember when my own mother had a stroke and died and the coronor asked to see her medications. It added up to 14 different things.

I respect the will to live, but it IS amazing to have to rely on
$1000's of meds every month to hang on for 25 years past our natural lives. Doctors are afraid of lawsuits, so do everything they can. I also think the average doctor does not like to be brutally honest with elders, hence the reluctance to diagnose dementia.

Sandwich, you made some very good points. Bottom line, religious or not, most of us are afraid of death.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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