Thanks, Katherine Ashenburg, for your well-researched and well-written article on the elderly in the March 2011 issue of Walrus. Katherine interviewed me several months ago as part of her research, and I was honored to see a few of my cranky comments appear in this classy and widely-distributed periodical.
It’s interesting that many people believe in the “compression of morbidity”, which is a name given to the idea that there is less and less frailty at the end of life. The evidence cited for this in the Walrus article was that people are entering nursing homes and experiencing other markers of frailty later and later in life, and also that there is less expenditure on the very old than on a slightly younger but still elderly age group. Skeptics might suggest that the delay in frailty is offset by increased longevity (people get frail later but they live longer so frailty lasts just as long), and that spending less on the very very old reflects the dawning commonsense idea that we shouldn’t be over-investigating these folks once they are frail.
Anyway, I definitely agree there are reasons for optimism, and it’s nice to see thought-provoking articles about home care and frailty reaching a wider and wider audience.