When someone dies in their 90s, or even older, people aren’t all that curious about what caused their death. After all, there is a limit to how long a human body can last, and death in a person who has achieved an extremely advanced age is not a surprise. But what does it really mean to die of old age? Gizmodo spoke to four experts about that. University of California, San Francisco, professor of medicine Elizabeth Dzeng says, in part,
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It’s common, in our society, to say that someone “died of old age.” But nobody ever actually dies of “old age.” There are always other pre-existing diseases—or new diseases—that cause the deaths in question. “Old age” isn’t something you’d put on a death certificate—most likely, it would be something like cardiac arrest, which occurs due to some underlying issue such as an infection, heart attack, or cancer. For example, a clot could go into the lungs which prevents somebody from oxygenating their brain or their body, and which then causes the heart to stop. When somebody dies, whether or not they’re young or old, some disease or disease-process has caused their body to stop working.
There’s more, and they also address aging, filling out a death certificate, and the idea of dying peacefully in your sleep at Gizmodo.
(Image credit: Angelica Alzona/Gizmodo)