What’s the Point?

In his eighties, Santayana said that his physician advised him to lose fifteen pounds, evidently hoping, the philosopher noted, to have him perfectly healthy just in time for his demise.

Epstein, Joseph (2016-04-01). Wind Sprints: Shorter Essays

This definitely reinforces a thought I often have when I am discussing health with very old or dying patients. For a long time there was little to no research for people over the age of 70 in regards to health recommendations. There was even less for people over the age of 80. Frankly there is still not that much. So as physicians we do not really know what makes a difference in regards to life expectancy and overall health for our elderly patients, although we make assumptions extrapolated from experimental data obtained from younger ones. Sometimes when I find myself talking to an 80 year old patient about cholesterol or high blood pressure or some other of the myriad of problems a person can have, I find myself wanting to bite my tongue, thinking to myself “How can I tell this older gentleman that he should stop eating his greasy hamburgers? He may die tomorrow just because he is 85.” I think if I reach the age of 80 I will give myself a green light to indulge myself. Of course I come from a family where everyone lives until their 90s, so I may be cutting 15 years off my life by granting myself dietary liberty. However, if I can manage to go quietly into the night eating a big beef burrito, I might exchange those extra years for the pleasure that only Tex Mex can give

1 thought on “What’s the Point?

  1. LOL!! So refreshing, esp coming from a physician! Beef burritos sound like a great end-of-life plan to me! (Except maybe I’d go with beef nachos — extra jalepenos and cheese, please.) And a large Coke.


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