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[Comment] What can we expect of health in old age?

The longing for longevity without decrepitude is ancient. Homer tells us that to live out his days with Penelope, Odysseus rejected immortality. Later restored to family and kingdom, the gods’ further favour included being able to look forward to an unenfeebled old age. So how goes our longing now? Around the world, although life expectancy is increasing for most people,1 a wholly healthy old age is elusive. In The Lancet, Carol Jagger and colleagues2 make clear that whether we reckon the ancient longing to be realised depends on how we measure health, and on which perspective we have.

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