A leading health expert says that by age 75 he would opt out of medical treatments to prolong his life and would let nature take its course. In an essay titled "Why I Hope to Die at 75," Ezekiel Emanuel, who heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, says while modern medicine might have added more years to our life spans, the quality of those years has decreased.
"Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss," Dr. Emanuel wrote in The Atlantic. "It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic."
The essay has sparked a heated discussion about how people want to spend the last years of their lives and how they choose to use medical care.
"What I've said at 75 is I'm going to change my use of medical care. I'm going to still use medical care that's palliative, relieves pain or if I have shortness of breath," Dr. Emanuel tells The Doctors. "What I'm not going to do is go to the doctor, get a lot of preventative services and go to the doctor and use a treatment where the reason for the treatment is it will prolong your life."
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork encourages people to take preventive measures decades earlier to try to ensure they will remain healthy and vigorous at age 75 and beyond.
"The truth is we do hold the key, to some extent, to how well and long we live," he says.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says that while your physical and mental abilities change as you get older, it is not all negative.
"We should embrace aging for what it is," he says. "It doesn't mean that we should stop living."
Meet Bob and his wife, Bette, and their neighbor Bea, who say they prove you can lead a fulfilling life beyond age 75.