In spite of various studies showing that baby boomers are living longer than their predecessors, The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report noting that they had higher occurrences of chronic disease and disability. This necessitates the need for more affordable health care, and having adequate health insurance can lessen the financial impact of treatments. By giving up smoking, committing to a low-cholesterol diet, or making other changes that positively impact your health, health insurance premiums can often be lowered.
When we reflect on the costs associated with aging, we typically consider data composed of age-related afflictions or health care expenditures over a lifetime. For example, according to a 2012 special report, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Over 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and payments for care [were] estimated to be $200 billion in 2012. This means we spent roughly twice as much on care for Alzheimer’s patients last year than we did in the Afghanistan war. This is also just a tiny percentage of what we spend every year in health-related costs. Our government accounted for 40% of the estimated $3.2 trillion in healthcare spending in 2010, and seniors comprised 37% of total healthcare spending.
It’s easy to become desensitized to this kind of information. After a while, big numbers all run together. So this kind of data can seem at times both radical and typical. In our most recent video, the Hidden Costs of Aging, our production team chose a different path. Rather than try to overwhelm you with a laundry list of statistics, they created a meditation on aging that considered the mundane (how many calories you’ve consumed); the morbid (how many medical visits you’ve made); and the metaphysical (what if we lived to a 1000?). By featuring people from the ages of 0 – 102, they put a face to the numbers and managed to construct something unique for a video on aging: a sense of optimism. After all, we shouldn’t be afraid to live longer.
- Video Transcript
- Right now you are aging. That should be both obvious and totally remarkable to you. Yesterday you were 12, today you are 22, tomorrow 33, 43, 44, 54, 64. At 70 you'll have been alive for over 25k days, and been asleep for more than 8k of them. You'll have eaten 86 million calories talked for over 2 years watched over 2 million commercials and gotten sick or injured over 300 times. The average amount spent on US healthcare over a lifetime is 316k. One third spent in middle age and half during our senior years. So as we discover new methods for living longer we’ll need to develop new means in which to pay for the luxury of it. Just think: At 5, one year was 20% of your life at 50 it’s just 2%. Is it any wonder time seemed to drag when we were kids and turned into a blur as we got older. Even as each second, minute, hour, and day adds to the meaning of our lives the significance of that time is also reduced to smaller and smaller percentages. If we can eventually live to 1000 (as theorists like Aubrey de Grey insist will someday happen), a year will leave the same kind of impression as a few days did when we were 10, and someone who reaches 102 will still be considered a child, years away from adolescence.