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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 8, 1998


Author Affiliations

Edited by Brian P. Pace, MA, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(2):128F. doi:10.1001/jama.280.2.128

A long life is variously valued by different individuals, but the great majority will without question accept it as a desirable acquisition. The ones who would theoretically disclaim any desire for length of days would in many cases exhibit the same objections to an early death or even one at any time, as those who honestly admit their preference for life even at the expense of the disagreeable possibilities of old age. The instinct of self-preservation, the clinging to life, is a safeguard of the race and it is to be hoped at least that it may never be a less prominent characteristic of mankind than it is at the present time. Old age is inconvenient, in some respects unattractive, and it is certainly a matter of expense to care for those who are past the productive period of their lives and who have not the excuse for their existence of the equally unproductive infant, that their term of usefulness is still to come. Nevertheless none of us who have a properly constituted disposition would wish matters otherwise than they are or care to lose prematurely, even for a moment, those who have passed the meridian and are now on the downward grade of life, however unproductive or burdensome they may be. There is a credit to their account in our social bank for past services which we can not ignore.