Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life expectancy

I have been thinking really hard about this for the last couple of weeks. It started with me having to decide about a pension plan. My bank sent an executive to suggest some investments and I thought it might be a good idea to start investing in a pension plan. Every year I would need to put in some money and when I retire, I would have different options, one of which would be to get a monthly income to take care of my expenses. I asked for a plan that would allow me to retire at around 50. The numbers came.

At that point I started thinking about it, asked a few experts on the dialysis forums and also talked to my nephrologists about it. How much longer can I hope to live? That is a loaded question. No one wants to answer it straight. I understand that. But it is a very important question for me. From a very practical standpoint. If I were to live till 60 or more, investing in a pension plan makes a lot of sense. That is because when I am about 50, I may not be able to work and earn enough to meet my expenses - medical and general. Now, when I am able to work, I should save some money to take care of this.

If, on the other hand, I am not going to be around after just a few more years, what's the point in investing in this kind of a plan? I might as well spend the money. I don't have any dependents to take care of. So, without sounding depressed or worried about this, I needed an accurate answer. Now, I totally understand that no one can give me an accurate answer. I also know that each individual is different and that statistics are made up of extremes and you cannot really rely on statistics to arrive at this answer.

I understand too that people without any chronic conditions could get run over by a bus or die in an accident. No amount of planning can avoid these kinds of things. Nevertheless, I believe that I really need to keep this in mind while deciding about how to go about my life in the next few years.

Bill Peckham quoted some statistics related to the US population which said that the life expectancy of a person on dialysis at my age would be about 11 years. This could be the average of extremes. When I think about my condition, I have almost all the co-morbidities associated with dialysis and more. So, should I consider myself close to one of the extremes?

These things can be really depressing. No, please don't leave a comment about how not to worry about the length of life; live each day to the fullest and all that. I usually do that.

4 comments:

IGA Nephropathy said...

I was thinking it was a typo when you wrote 11. I went and looked a the chart...and indeed it says 11. This is quit a bit of shocker to me. When folks said to be going on Dialysis I was under the impression that it would atleast be 25+ years. As you said...it is all about extremes and statistics but this is quite alarming. This is quite important factor to know.

At the same time I guess it is the adage "prepare for the worst while expect for the best". We have to take this number as seriously as we will hope that we are on the top end of it.

What this does not say is the dialysis start date. So if you were to count from your (Kamal's) start date of dialysis in the age group. ..that number already is surpassed.

So, in summary I am not sure what to make of this as it neither talks about the length of dialysis etc. So, I think we should not take this too much to heart (simply because we might be saddling ourselves) but at the same time be aware that we could be there...especially given that the 11 itself is presumably an average of extremes !!!!

Kamal D Shah said...

The thing that worries me is that the extremes are people with co-morbidites. And I have all the co-morbidites except amyloidosis. So, does that mean I am close to an extreme?

Though I have been reading up on all this for years now and have probably seen those numbers before too, it never hit me that I was in the position I am in. It struck me when I talked about life expectancy with my neph a few days back.

I have been quite depressed about this for the last couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kamal, I want to let you know that you have been quite the inspiration to us, and have made me reflect on the complexities of life. Especially since we were all embarking on our path ahead at the same time. Reading your blogs also make me recognize and appreciate each day (not sure I would do that otherwise).
While, I don't completely know the details on your kidney disease, one of the commentators on the earlier post suggested he has been living with it for 40 years.
I too have been thinking about this question because a cousin recently died all of a sudden - quite instantly - leaving behind 2 small children.
Retirement is something we aim for, whether we avail it nobody knows. Setting aside that money for me is like gambling.
While thinking about retirement is important, I have decided it is more important to focus on one's legacy. What has my impact been on the world? What will I be remembered for? What has been my contribution to making this world a better place.
Your blog certainly falls into the later category.I really do believe you inspire people through your thoughts and actions I urge you to keep your focus through these difficult times.
Kathyayani

PDS said...

I would not suggest a pension fund. Equiry as an asset class has surpassed all other classes when invested over a long term.

Equity would give you better returns and the flexibility to withdraw at any given time.