Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Is That The Time?

Part of my work is being the medical officer for a rehabilitation ward for the elderly. I've been doing the work for around 12 years, and even over that relatively short space of time there has been a noticeable increase in the average age of the patients admitted. Some of these older patients are remarkably fit: in fact a 91 year old patient that I admitted the other day could easily have passed for 71 years. However, many of them are very unfit, significantly demented, and appear to have a very poor quality of life by most people's standards.

This article about the oldest man in the world, a 111 year old Japanese guy, states that he joked that he is sorry to have lived this long. Maybe he was really kidding, but I'm a great believer in the saying "Many a true word spoken in jest". I've certainly met several very elderly frail patients who have calmly expressed the wish that tomorrow would never come.

With improved social conditions, nutrition and medical care in the developed world increasing longevity is not difficult. The trick is producing a life that is not only longer but also worth living.