2018-08-29 19:28:40 UTC
First two paragraphs:
I am five years older than my mother was when she died of breast cancer, in 1982. She was sixty-five, which now seems merely middle aged. I don’t know what expectations she had about aging; I doubt she had any, especially after her diagnosis, but I know what mine are. A while ago, I consulted an online life-expectancy calculator, which predicted that I am going to live until I am ninety-eight. Yikes. If I cut down on wine and up my aerobics and strength training, I may become a centenarian—the fastest growing demographic in Canadian society.
Longevity is the new reality and I am in the vanguard of an emerging demographic trend. Life expectancy soared from seventy-two for men and seventy-nine for women in 1982—the year my mother died—to eighty for men and eighty-four for women in 2015. I’m not afraid of dying. The legalization of medically assisted dying means that death is losing its sting, at least for the terminally ill. What terrifies me is old age. What’s the point of longevity if I run out of money or become socially isolated because I am deaf and immobile and have outlived all my friends? Or, far worse, if I am plagued with myriad conditions that rob me of cognition and autonomy and force me to linger like last week’s leftovers because I will no longer be competent enough to request an assisted death? That boomers like me aren’t leaving this mortal coil any time soon also has costly implications for younger generations, which will have to support us in our dotage either as caregivers or with their taxes, or both...