Living Forever? The Fear of Death and the Dilemma of Ageing

기사승인 2020.08.06  20:34:32


Aging; the problem of the century, the problem of the entrity of human existence. In contemporary society, skincare lines are filled with anti-aging products and medication, all in attempts to slow the internal and external aging process. The attempt is nothing new recollecting the historical events of the old nobles of England and China alike, applying mercury as a method of perennial youth. The fear of aging however does not only reside in the gaining of wrinkles or losing the strength that a youthful body had once had but is also on the social burden one’s age causes on its loved ones. The reason of fear can be generally categorized into two parts: the physical/mental degeneration and the social burden of age.

The most feared and common reason for aging is the physical and mental degeneration of the human body. The onset of chronic illness entails such as cancer and Alzheimers is a clear indicator of an aging body that also hints adjacent death. According to the 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) report, cancer is feared by the majority of the public. While the patient has trivial chances of full recovery from the lethal disease, the abundance of the disease leaves no one immune. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is another common type of physical impairment. Unlike that of chronic illness, CVD directly affects an individual's mobility that leads to an inevitable drop in quality of life, leaving a person dependent on a caregiver or bound to a wheelchair.

 If cancer and CVD is a disease that leaves a physical impairment in the body, cognitive impairments such as dementia compromise the mind. Alzheimer, the most prevalent type of dementia, affects 10 percent of elders over the age of 65. Cognitive disease strips a person of his or her identity through the loss of memory. Compared to common chronic illness or cardiovascular disease, dementia is a particular field that is less understood. Therefore the lack of understanding leads to little development in the cure, which consequently marks people with a high risk of Alzheimer's to grow extreme fear and anxiety.

Age-related disease or ‘degenerative disease’ inevitably drops a person’s quality of life. The tasks and achievements a person could once make are made impossible by the malfunctioning body. Elders after their retirement and working-age are left dependent on their loved ones or the insurance system provided by society. Unable to support him or herself and left dependent on others for the basic tasks and needs in life becomes a huge social burden. The psychological effect of thinking that they are encumbering their loved ones with a heavy burden takes a great toll on the person growing the reluctance of aging. Say for example an elderly is diagnosed with cancer. The monetary burden can most definitely be paid by the fortune of the elder accumulated through his or her lifetime, however, the elder’s family must go through the mental torment of watching the person suffer during the therapy. Put under the circumstance that the therapy is not a cure, the elders' suffering will equate to the person’s surrounding loved ones until the pain comes to an end most likely by death.

Every person’s perception of death and aging is shaped by his or her experience, social/cultural background, and socioeconomic conditions. Therefore an individual’s attitude and fear of aging vary greatly. The understanding and the level of fear in an individual are known to fluctuate by age while the dilemma of aging and unavoidable death directly impacts a person's actions or faith. Aging is a natural phenomenon that cannot be completely deterred by current technology based on the laws of nature. Mortals will face this uniform dilemma continuing the evolution of technology while the fear will direct more technological advancements to skew towards discovering ways in which to make someone immoral. Just like sci-fi movies that showcase the preservation of the human brain for a person to live beyond their capacity, the dilemma of age will shape the future of technology.


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