“Improved Health!” or “The Fruit of the Golden Years?”

Time and again, I hear that the improvement of our health and a longer life-span are the greatest achievements our “golden” century has given us at the end of the last millennium. I have my doubts.

In Bayern 2 Wissen – yet again! – I heard an interesting report the gist of which was that our improved health is mainly due to the progress we have made in the area of hygiene. And to the fact that we get enough to eat.

We have become a more cleanliness-aware race (more neatness, running water, water toilets, sewage disposal, and disinfection of tools used in medicine). That was the greatest medical progress of all times.

The improved hygienic situation is also the main reason why we live longer. However, it happened more than a hundred years ago. Modern vaccines helped us to keep some maladies at bay and with antibiotics, we found a way to fight bacteria. Moreover, we were able to improve surgical techniques, which also heightened our chances towards a longer life-span. All other progress in medicine was of relatively little consequence.

Now let me ask how our health has actually developed over the last decades. Are we really healthier on the whole? How many people are overweight or suffer from other lifestyle deceases? How many of us suffer from depressions or psychoses? How many only manage to get through the day using medicine with massive side-effects?

What about this higher life-span? My grandparents and great-aunts (mostly they were born 50 years before me and have been dead these past few decades) all lived past their 80-ieth birthdays (my paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother even celebrated their 90-ieth birthdays). And they all managed their households by themselves until the end.

I see more and more people suffering from dementia, depressions and psychoses, both in society at large and in my immediate environment. And the phenomenon is not restricted to really old people. Consequently, I get the impression that we are not really healthier than the people were fifty or perhaps even a hundred years ago.

The health industry enslaves us with an ingenious combination of fear and promises. Through a system of forced contributions, it “shanghais” an ever greater part of our incomes. And it tries to attract our attention by Anti-Aging and progress in the field of Gerontologie. To be sure, I, too, do not want to die “before my time”. But what good will it do me if all I can do during my last years of life is be a vegetable? Can the years you add to your life be a criterion for a full life at all?

I only write this because (again) I feel I am treated like an immature consumer. Incidentally, I do not appreciate being taken for a fool all the time.

(Translated by EG)

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