Is The Quality of Life More Important Than The Quantity Of Life?

Vena Moore
Published in
5 min readFeb 10

As lifespans have increased, the question of whether longevity is better than the quality of life becomes more urgent.

Photo by Bill Hamway on Unsplash

A debate about the quality of our lives as we age got me thinking.

Nearly nine years ago, an oncologist, health policy expert, and medical ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel (also the brother of infamous former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) published a controversial essay in the Atlantic called “Why I Hope to Die At 75.” He believes that people generally have a lower quality of life after they reach age 75 and maintained that he does not plan to take efforts to prolong his life such as vaccinations or medical treatment for diseases such as cancer.

The debate flared up again recently when Dr. Emanuel appeared on CNN. The question of whether the quality of our lives does diminish after a certain age seems to divide people. Some feel that the belief that older people have a lower quality of life is dismissive and ageist, pointing to octogenarians such as President Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci as proof that older people can make meaningful contributions that benefit others.

Then, others wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Emanuel. Me? I’m on the fence.

Longevity Isn’t Always A Blessing

My parents are in their mid to late 70s. Neither of them currently lives an active or engaged life and both are in poor health. For instance, my father is a resident of a nursing home. He’s on dialysis due to renal failure, has congestive heart failure, and hypertension, and can barely walk. He’s needed a wheelchair for nearly two years.

While my mother still lives at home, she now uses a walker to get around. She also uses a shower chair to bathe. She’s no longer able to stand or walk for long periods. As far as her medical issues go, she has diabetes, a heart murmur, and possibly one or two other conditions that I’m forgetting. My mother has become a recluse, rarely leaving her home except to go to medical appointments. She spends around 16 hours a day watching television.

Many would consider my parent’s longevity a blessing considering that Black people’s lifespans tend to be shorter than that of whites. Right now, the average life…

Vena Moore
Writer for

Dismantling white, male supremacy one word at a time.