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About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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October 7, 2005

How We Are Going to Die

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Posted by Zack Lynch

This past Sunday, David Brooks in the New York Times explains how we are going to die:

"Twenty percent of us, according to a Rand Corporation study, are going to get cancer or another rapidly debilitating condition and we'll be dead within a year of getting the disease. Another 20 percent of us are going to suffer from some cardiac or respiratory failure. We'll suffer years of worsening symptoms, a few
life-threatening episodes, and then eventually die.

But 40 percent of us will suffer from some form of dementia (most frequently Alzheimer's disease or a disabling stroke). Our gradual, unrelenting path toward death will take 8 or 10 or even 20 years, during which we will cease to become the person we were. We will linger on, in some new state, depending on the care of others.

As the population ages, more people will live in this final category. Between now and 2050, the percentage of the population above age 85 is expected to quadruple, and the number of people with Alzheimer's
disease is expected to quadruple, too."

Bottom line: Neurological diseases and psychiatric illnesses represent the greatest threat to our lifestyles and economy. Beyond the untold human suffering, the economic burden of brain-related illness is already greater than $1 Trllion. What will it be in 2050?

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues


COMMENTS

1. patricia on October 7, 2005 1:42 PM writes...

That's the most depressing thing I've ever read.

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2. Ivan Kirigin on October 7, 2005 2:21 PM writes...

The cost of caring for invalids will be much smaller as care givers transition from humans to robots. I'm pretty confident this can happen in 15-20 years, let alone 45.

I would imagine projections like these are horribly bad at predicting non-linear progress.

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3. Gary Moraco on October 7, 2005 11:48 PM writes...

No kiddin? The Grand Old party is looking forward to it kids.dont think by joining them that you will live longer either.

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4. Vladimir on October 8, 2005 1:27 PM writes...

That's the most inspiring thing I've ever read.

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5. Bob on October 10, 2005 6:49 AM writes...

Ok, let me see if I have this right. 20% of us will die of cancer or some other debilitating condition. Another 40% of us will suffer from some form of dementia.... huh? what?........who's that??........hmmmmm....... coulda' swore someone was there........must be ghosts, or gremlins..... maybe an imp (a small devilish fiend type thing) So based on their predictions does that mean the last 20% will live perfect lives with no sickness or dementiatic problems and retain their current cognitive state until such time as all their other vital organs cease to function while their perfectly functioning grey matter is then incorporated into robotic beings assigned to take care of those afflicted with the afforementioned disease's? Hmmmmmmm.........I doubt it...... sorry....r-a-m-b-l-i-n-g..........

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6. Troy Worman on October 10, 2005 11:01 PM writes...

Nice.

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7. Carol on October 13, 2005 10:44 AM writes...

The scary part is that we are already seeing a shift in who pays for these illnesses. Basically, no one in the private sector ever wants to pay for the cost of care associated with a mental illness. The cost of care is so great that families cannot chip in enough to afford it. Therefore, mom and dad are encouraged to be indigent (spend downs and gifts) so that the government has to bear the cost of their care. Our economy will certainly suffer if this trend is allowed to continue.

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8. Carol on October 13, 2005 10:46 AM writes...

The scary part is that we are already seeing a shift in who pays for these illnesses. Basically, no one in the private sector ever wants to pay for the cost of care associated with a mental illness. The cost of care is so great that families cannot chip in enough to afford it. Therefore, mom and dad are encouraged to be indigent (spend downs and gifts) so that the government has to bear the cost of their care. Our economy will certainly suffer if this trend is allowed to continue.

Permalink to Comment

9. Raj on December 7, 2005 5:07 PM writes...

Is it possible that many of these issues are as a result of unresolved issues from one's past? Should one make an effort to resolve past issues? I know that when I have fessed up that I feel a lot happier. Usually it is small stuff that becomes a very large bag.

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10. Marsha on March 30, 2007 10:40 PM writes...


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