Seeking Immortality

Please watch the Ted Talk Seeking Immortality 

What do you think about the biologist’s claim that aging is a problem society needs to address?  Do you agree or disagree and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of developing ways to slow aging or repairing the damage of developmentally normal aging?  What are the ethical concerns?  What might the consequences be, both positive and negative, for a culture that pursues the slowing of aging?

Seeking Immortality Sample Paper

            Human aging and chronic diseases associated with old age have caused the greatest challenge and financial burdens in the world. In the developed world, the number of people in the old age is increasingly growing mainly due to the baby boom. In addition to their demanding care, aged people suffer from many age-related chronic illnesses which cost millions of dollars annually. Although the development of interventions to lengthen life by combating aging is one of the ways that scientists believe can help solve the challenges associated with aging it has attracted widespread skepticism about the negative impact it may bring.

            The biologists claim in the video clip “Seeking Immortality”, that aging is a problem that society must combat is true. Although aging is a natural and biological process, it comes with increased healthcare costs associated with treatment of diseases associated with old age and for the care of the aged. According to (Kelley, McGarry, Gorges & Skinner, 2015) there has been a decline in the rates of growth of Medicare and a reduction in total healthcare bill paid by patients from their pockets in the United States of America. What this suggests is that the U.S government is allocating resources in the protection of the healthcare needs of the old. However, this could have an impact on the costs of healthcare.

            Moreover, research has found that the proportion of the old in the United States and other developed countries is increasing (Longo et al., 2015). This means that more and more proportion of the population will consist of the aged. Given the growth of proportion of people in old age and the fact that many of this population segment suffer from many chronic illnesses such as cancer, this would lead to increased costs of healthcare. Kelley, McGarry, Gorges & Skinner (2015) in their study done among population of people aged 70, found that the healthcare costs for people suffering from dementia was higher than those of other diseases and that most of these expense remained uncovered. The means increased financial burden to the government and the people directly responsible for the care of the old.

            In order to combat the problems caused by aging and those associated with aging, scientists are developing longevity of life through ways that slow aging, as one of ways of fighting aging. According to (De Grey, 2014; Longo et al., 2015) life longevity can be achieved by fighting causes of aging such as cell atrophy. However, life longevity through slowing of aging offers advantages and limitations. One of the advantages of life longevity is that it reduces the number of chronic illnesses that are associated with old age. Some diseases such as dementia can be controlled with development of ways to slow aging. The reduction of chronic illnesses owing to slowing of aging has a direct positive impact on costs of healthcare. Reduced chronic illnesses at old age means reduced budgetary and individual expenditure in their treatment.

            However, increasing life by means of slowing aging offers significant disadvantages. Older people have less productivity, and this will likely increase dependency. According to (Bloom et al., 2015) aged populations have negative implications on economy and employment. Given that the proportion of the aged people in America and other developed countries in increasing, slowing aging will lead to the aged people living longer. Due to the fact that there will be more old people than young people engaged in active economic activities, the dependency will increase affecting severely the economy.

            Also, increasing the length of time that the aged live is a significant healthcare driver. Increased number of old people in the society mean increase in the number of healthcare homes for the aged which will demand increased healthcare allocation. A higher proportion of the old will also affect the economy owing to increase in duration for which pensions are paid. Other implications include effects on consumption and patterns of saving, where individuals must adjust their consumption and saving patterns in order to meet demands for their aged family members.

            Although life longevity through slowing of aging or repairing the damage of developmentally normal aging has positive and negative effects, the process is also subject to ethical concerns. According to (de Magalhães, 2014) study on slowing of aging (biogerontology) like any other field of biomedical research raises some ethical concerns. Since these researches rely on studies being done on older people, it raises concerns about informed consent. According to the author, older people are frail and regenerate quickly, making it hard to seek informed consent and for such research to be carried out. The capacity for older people to give informed consent is far much less when compared to other demographic groups.

            Moreover, the biological process of slowing aging or repairing the damage of developmentally are subject to ethical concerns that arise from the social implications of the process. According to (de Magalhães, 2014) although the elimination of age related discomfort, pain and other chronic diseases are welcome, eradicating aging has faced a lot of criticism. The major concerns from those opposed on ethical grounds assert that eradication of aging can lead to social problems such as inequality, likelihood of overpopulation and that aging is a natural process which should never be modified by humans through any biomedical means.

            The other ethical concerns of biogerontology concern the research process and privacy regarding the collection, storage and use of data. According to (de Magalhães, 2014) process of slowing aging involves scientific processes such as modification of genomes, which is a source of great ethical concerns on alteration of genetic information in humans. Moreover, the collection of data among people can raise issues concerning privacy, where an individual may raise a concern that their personal data is being used for the study of aging.

            A culture that pursues slowing of aging is able to increase the lifespan of their older population. This would allow such culture to retain and preserve their cultural identity since the rate of cultural evolution would be reduced. However, slowing aging process could produce negative consequences such as overpopulation, which could lead to resource scarcity and huge burden on health and social amenities. Slowing aging would also lead to development of predominant culture, which limits cultural evolution that is responsible for the current society for example the development in the field of ethics owes much to cultural evolution.             In addition to the benefits and negative consequences of slowing of aging on culture and economy, such pursuits could impact on the old age stage of development as discussed in development theories. According to (Boyd & Bee, 2014) the theories of human development examine human growth in various stages of life from prenatal to adulthood. For example, Erikson in his theory developed eight stages of human growth, while Piaget developed the cognitive perspective. Now, if a culture pursues slowing of aging, it could completely alter such theoretical concepts, especially regarding the old age. It would mean that humans would be able to grow and reach adulthood after which they would remain in such a state and perhaps only die on choice, as a result of legal process such as death sentence or through natural disasters or accidents. There would be need to redefine the individual theories of development especially at old age in order to explain changes in human growth at that stage.

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