eagermuscle saidNope. People are dying harder AND longer. Read this. It's enough to knock everybody off their treadmills and straight to MacDonalds:
That's a very specific case--though, with increasing longevity, a growing case--the same I mentioned with my mom, and so as I said there are instances where living a healthy life can produce more suffering at the end. But mostly, that is not the case, at least not according to the aging studies classes I've taken. And it makes sense. The healthier you remain, the less will you suffer. Just imagine some guy spending his life with the ravages of diabetes. He's gonna suffer a lot more and for a lot longer than someone who watched closer what they ate.
The problem is that if you then do get dementia, or disabled by accident, etc, then living healthy can work against you. But you can't plan on that. You still have to make the best decisions you can with what information you have at the time, not with what other information you might have later.
Here's what I just googled (from this point, all text quoted from article but for what I put in parentheses):http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/nia-who_report_booklet_oct-2011_a4__1-12-12_5.pdf
The world is on the brink of a demographic milestone. Since the beginning of recorded history, young children have outnumbered their elders. In about five years’ time, however, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5.
Reducing severe disability from disease and health conditions is one key to holding down health and social costs.
The longer people can remain mobile and care for themselves, the lower are the costs
And there is mounting evidence from crossnational data that—with appropriate policies and programs—people can remain healthy and independent well into old age and can continue to contribute to their communities and families.
The potential for an active, healthy old age is tempered by one of the most daunting and potentially costly consequences of ever-longer life expectancies: the increase in people with dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
An estimated 25-30 percent of people aged 85 or older have dementia.
In 2010, an estimated 524 million people were aged 65 or older—8 percent of the world’s population. By 2050, this number is expected to nearly triple to about 1.5 billion, representing 16 percent of the world’s population.
The dramatic increase in average life expectancy during the 20th century ranks as one of society’s greatest achievements. Although most babies born in 1900 did not live past age 50, life expectancy at birth now exceeds 83 years in Japan—the current leader—and is at least 81 years in several other countries.
(here's the part I mentioned about reserve capacity: )
A growing body of research finds that many health problems in adulthood and old age stem from infections and health conditions early in life. Some researchers argue that important aspects of adult health are determined before birth, and that nourishment in utero and during infancy has a direct bearing on the development of risk factors for
adult diseases—especially cardiovascular diseases.
Research also shows that delayed physical growth in childhood reduces physical and cognitive functioning in later years.
Behavior and exposure to health risks during a person’s adult life also influence health in older age.
(and now to your point
)Are we living healthier as well as longer lives, or are our additional years spent in poor health?
There is considerable debate about this question among researchers, and the answers have broad implications for the growing number of older people around the world. One way to examine the question is to look at changes in rates of disability, one measure of health and function. Some researchers think there will be a decrease in the prevalence of disability as life expectancy increases, termed a “compression of morbidity.”Others see an “expansion of morbidity”—an increase in the prevalence of disability as life expectancy increases. Yet others argue that, as advances in medicine slow the progression from chronic disease to disability, severe disability will lessen, but milder chronic diseases will increase.In the United States, between 1982 and 2001 severe disability fell about 25 percent among those aged 65 or older even as life expectancy increased.This very positive trend suggests that we can affect not only how long we live, but also how well we can function with advancing age.
Unfortunately, this trend may not continue in part because of rising obesity among those now entering older ages.
(And for anyone considering retirement)
there is some evidence that staying in the labor force after age 55 is associated with slower loss of cognitive function, perhaps because of the stimulation of the workplace and related social engagement.