Thanks to advancements in research that enable doctors to detect diseases and conditions early on, more people are living longer. In fact, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, in approximately 35 years, there will be more than 400,000 people in the country who are at least 100 years old. Moreover, some predict that the possibility of lifespans extending into the 120s will be possible in the not-so-distant future.
While these statistics undoubtedly represent medical and scientific achievements, they don’t necessarily reflect most Americans’ wishes.
A recent Pew Research poll surveyed more than 2,000 American adults about their opinions on aging and bioethical issues, such as radical life extension. When respondents were asked if they would undergo medical treatments that would enable them to live decades into their centenarian years, the majority (56%) responded “No.” Interestingly, about two thirds did think, however, that others would take advantage of such a procedure.
Lengthier life may reduce quality of living
According to the poll, a strain on natural resources is one of the main reasons respondents opposed artificially extended life spans. Approximately two-thirds of respondents said that longer life expectancies would make goods and services harder to come by. Additionally, the same percentage was concerned that doctors might make the treatments available before determining the potential unintended consequences.
"Overall attitudes about medical treatments are, not surprisingly, closely related to views about the likely effect of medical treatments that would radically extend the life span of human beings," the study reported. "Those who see medical advances in generally positive terms are also more inclined to view radical life extension as a good thing for society, and vice versa."
Positive outlook regarding the future
The survey also displayed a largely optimistic stance among respondents regarding the aging American population, as well as their own personal futures. Most respondents viewed the growing numbers of older Americans as either having a good impact on society (41%) or as not making much of a difference at all (46%).
Additionally, most of the respondents were content with their lives currently and expected them to improve in the future. While this outlook is not very surprising among young people, it is worth noting that most respondents aged 65 and older predicted that their lives would be better (23%) or the same (43%) ten years into the future.
With regard to financial well-being, more than half of respondents shared that they did not worry very much or at all about the possibility of outliving their retirement savings.
Speak up: How do you feel about medically-extended lifetimes? Are you in line with the poll participants regarding your outlook on the future?