Ageing and medicine: Quality versus quantity?

Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, panelists iron out the wrinkles in the ageing debate. We are living longer, but what about the quality of our extended lives? Average life expectancy has extended by as much as 30 years in developed countries during the 20th century. While this statistic might be seen as cause for celebration, society seems ambivalent. Our doubts are not simply caused by headline scaremongering about massed ranks of the elderly being a drain on pension funds and the NHS. What constitutes ‘quality of life’? When poet Jenny Joseph wrote, ‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…spend my pension on brandy,’ she captured the pleasurable prospect of growing old disgracefully. Is this irresponsible?

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