By Steve Moran

It is kind of hard to know what to think of this but back in 2014, Atlantic published an article authored by Ezekiel J. Emanuel titled “Why I Hope to Die at 75”. In the article, he proposes that when he hits age 75, he is done with healthcare except for palliative care. He believes when almost everyone hits age 75, they are on a downhill slide.

While he does not quite say it in his article he seems to believe that it is an unreasonable use of scarce resources to invest in healthcare for those older than 75. Here is a quote: 

“But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. 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.”

I heard him speak at a conference in 2016 and wrote about it afterward.

Biden’s Coronavirus Task Force

My sense is that most leaders in senior living, and more broadly aging services, see Joe Biden as a leader who will be more friendly to our cause. And I am generally in agreement with that view.  

Then This . . .

President-Elect Joe Biden has hired Emanuel to be part of his coronavirus task force. There is at least some legitimate concern that he will be disinclined to see the necessity to provide early vaccine access to elders. And perhaps even less inclined to support early access to those who are living in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and dementia communities.

Some Thoughts

Emanuel is now age 63, which means he has just 12 years until he hits his self-determined witching age. I suspect that as he approaches age 75 three things are going to happen:

  1. He is going to say to himself, “I had no idea I would get to 75 this fast.”
  2. He will say to himself, “I sure don’t feel 75 years old.”
  3. He will say to himself, “I still have a bunch of things I want to accomplish to make the world a better place.”

From a policy standpoint, he will be just a single member of the committee. And hopefully not so influential that he will engage in a kind of draconian exercise in ageism.

Ultimately no cause for alarm but it is something we as a sector should watch carefully.