Scientific progress and longevity

Curse or blessing?

in The freedom of scientific research
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Immortality may not yet be on the cards for us, at least not on this earth, but we live longer than the previous generation, and the next generations will live longer than us. This offers us hope for a long life, and is perhaps the fulfilment of one of our most ancient and rooted dreams. But the sweetest of dreams can easily turn into the worst nightmare. With increased longevity, the amount of ill health and disability will also increase, the workforce will decrease, chronic conditions, multiple morbidities and cognitive impairments will become more common, raising long-term expenditure to unknown levels. At the same time families will face increasing pressure to balance care with other responsibilities, particularly work. As the population ages, so will the workforce. How can nations’ economic well-being be preserved? This chapter shows that many worries are based on misconceptions and misunderstandings relating to diseases and old age. Moreover, many important steps can be taken to prevent certain negative outcomes from materialising.

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