Why medicine???

For old folks.

In another thread there was a comment that life expectancy hasn’t really increased very much. The “average” has gone up only because of the decrease in infant mortality.

So why are seniors so medicated? My mother, for example, says she spends about $250 a month on medication for various ailments, none of which have any real “cure:” COPD, DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy), and rheumatoid arthritis.

And I’ve heard similar stories from other seniors. I wonder if there are any seniors that aren’t heavily medicated (and I don’t mean that to be to the point of sedation). If they’re not living any longer as a result, I (if I were one) think I could find better things to spend my money on.

Two thoughts come willy-nilly here, Mj.

First - quality of life. You might not live any longer if you take this stuff, but maybe you won’t feel so bad, either.

Second - many seniors see more than one doctor and have multiple prescriptions that are not necessarily working in concert. I remember my Dad, who saw his physician as well as a couple of specialists, beginning to feel better almost immediately after he quit taking his prescriptions.

The average hasn’t gone up ONLY because of infant mortality, but it’s a big contributor. Elderly people are living longer, but more importantly they are living better. There are a number of ailments which used to be completely debilitating which are now treatable through surgery or medication.

My Grandmother had arthritis so bad she could hardly walk. She was given a new prescription, and the difference was unbelievable. Later on, she got a hip replacement which made her walk like a 20 year old.

Mjollnir writes:

Well, beatle and dhanson gave a couple of good reasons.
Another is that the coment in that other thread was just wrong: life expectancy has increased, and not just because of a decrease in infant mortality.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

The statement that our friend, the hammer, probably referred to was one in which the idea that 40 used to be “old age” was trashed as being a misunderstanding of statistical expression.

Because “life expectancy” is given as around 30 - 35 during the Roman Empire (and lower during the medieval period), folks tend to think that that was the normal age at death. Instead, life expectancy indicates the average number of years that a child born at a specific time may expect to live. Since infant mortality ran as high as 20% in those ancient times (and mortality for children under the age of 5 ran to almost 30%) (Source: EB, “Population: Mortality”), the effective death of 44% of the population before age 6 means that people surviving the first five years of life had to live quite a while to bring the average up to 32 years.

People have been living longer, recently. However, the notion that a 35 year old person in 70 CE or a 40 year old person in 800 CE was considered a living fossil by his or her fast-aging 25-year-old contemporaries does get quite a bit of abuse on this MB.

Regarding the OP: it is also true (to what extent, I don’t know) that a certain number of diseases of the aged are 20th century phenomena. Hypertension/high blood pressure has a lot of triggers in the latter half of the 20th century that did not used to be there. More people suffer from it now, because more people have it. (It is also true that more people have it because we do keep sufferers alive longer, rather than letting them die of strokes, but the number of instances within the population is higher than it was 100 years ago.)