October 21, 2005

How We Are Going to Die

The new TimesSelect program prevented me from blogging this David Brooks column earlier, but since Zack Lynch has provided excerpts in his post How Are We Going to Die, I can point to him.

"Twenty percent of us, according to a Rand Corporation study, are going to get cancer or another rapidly debilitating condition and we'll be dead within a year of getting the disease. Another 20 percent of us are going to suffer from some cardiac or respiratory failure. We'll suffer years of worsening symptoms, a few life-threatening episodes, and then eventually die.
But 40 percent of us will suffer from some form of dementia (most frequently Alzheimer's disease or a disabling stroke). Our gradual, unrelenting path toward death will take 8 or 10 or even 20 years, during which we will cease to become the person we were. We will linger on, in some new state, depending on the care of others.
As the population ages, more people will live in this final category. Between now and 2050, the percentage of the population above age 85 is expected to quadruple, and the number of people with Alzheimer's disease is expected to quadruple, too."

Even with Ray Kurzweil's vision of the Singularity is Near, there's still 20% of deaths unaccounted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at October 21, 2005 6:15 PM | Permalink