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Author Topic: “Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis  (Read 7030 times)

Offline coberst

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« on: 27/01/2009 19:49:54 »
“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis

Technology has increased longevity thereby making death even more frightful, expensive, tortuous, and perhaps accumulatively more painful than before.  Is this progress?

“Never before in history has it been so hard to fulfill our final earthly task: dying. It used to be that people were "visited" by death. With nothing to fight it, we simply accepted it and grieved. Today, thanks to myriad medications and interventions that have been created to improve our health and prolong our lives, dying has become a difficult and often excruciatingly slow process.” Craig Bowron, Physician

Bowron speaks of a woman who suffers from something that physicians call "the dwindles", which is essential a characteristic of old age in modern times. Three days a week she spends in dialysis so that she can spend the remaining four days of the week recovering; she is miserable seven days a week.

Bowron speaks of another patient who is 91 who lies in his bed helpless with painful swollen arthritic joints after being felled with a stroke.

There are no lifesaving medications in such cases; only life-prolonging pain can be offered.

Bowron informs us that “everyone wants to grow old and die in his or her sleep, but the truth is that most of us will die in pieces. Most will be nibbled to death by piranhas, and the piranhas of senescence are wearing some very dull dentures. It can be a torturously slow process, with an undeniable end, and our instinct shouldn't be to prolong it. If you were to walk by a Tilt-A-Whirl loaded with elderly riders and notice that all of them were dizzy to the point of vomiting, wouldn't your instinct be to turn the ride off? Or at the very least slow it down? Mercy calls for it.”

The good doctor is not speaking about euthanasia or even about the spiraling cost of health care; he is speaking about a sympathetic and rationalized dignity for those who have reached the end of a life worth living.

“In the past, the facade of immortality was claimed by Egyptian kings, egomaniacal monarchs and run-of-the mill psychopaths. But democracy and modern medical advances have made the illusion accessible to everyone. We have to rid ourselves of this distinctly Western notion before our nation's obesity epidemic and the surge of aging baby boomers combine to form a tsunami of infirmity that may well topple our hospital system and wash it out to sea.” Bowron

I think that the good doctor and I agree that there comes a time in life when “the only thing worse than dying is being kept alive”.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/story/2009/01/09/ST2009010903215.html



 

Offline Make it Lady

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #1 on: 27/01/2009 21:27:31 »
Horses for courses on this one. My brother was told he had terminal cancer. They said he could have chemotherapy but it would only prolong his life by months and it may make his life less comfortable. Did my brother throw in the towel and refuse the treatment so that he would have a more peaceful death? Did he hell. He wanted to milk every last hour he could even if he suffered pain. We all have this strong survival instinct.
People that have a more prolonged illness that can be slowed and treated so that the suffering is more drawn out get tired of the struggle. I can understand the people that just want to take that short trip to Switzerland.
 

Offline coberst

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #2 on: 27/01/2009 21:59:28 »
I can understand the people that just want to take that short trip to Switzerland.

Do you know something about Switzerland that I do not know?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #3 on: 27/01/2009 22:28:30 »
Each to their own I reackon.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #4 on: 28/01/2009 05:37:03 »
Switzerland is peaceful.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #5 on: 28/01/2009 05:54:24 »
They take that trip to Switzerland to clean out their bank account before they die.
 

Offline RD

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #6 on: 28/01/2009 08:20:24 »
Quote
The good doctor is not speaking about euthanasia or even about the spiraling cost of health care;
 he is speaking about a sympathetic and rationalized dignity for those who have reached the end of a life worth living.


If the cost is not the issue, then it is simply a matter of the patient choosing to refuse life-prolonging treatment.

The concept of "a life worth living" is a dangerous one, if you accept that there is such a state then you are on a slippery slope:
 which group would be next to be added to the "coffin dodger" list ?, the physically/mentally handicapped ?, those in living in poverty ?.     


This argument does seem to be thinly veiled one about costs rather than patients quality of life.


(I would be concerned about who would decide whether "a life is worth living", if not the patient).


http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/322/7300/1481
« Last Edit: 28/01/2009 08:32:14 by RD »
 

Offline coberst

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #7 on: 28/01/2009 10:13:07 »
Our technology has forced us to adapt quickly or perish.  Darwin informs us that the species that is unable to adapt to its changing environment is doomed.

Our environment is determined to a great extent by our technological sophistication.  This technology moves at rocket speed and our intellectual sophistication barely moves forward at all.  If we do not change this equation quickly we are toast and perhaps all life on this planet might share our end.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #8 on: 28/01/2009 10:31:24 »
How can we change this equation?
 

Offline coberst

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« Reply #9 on: 28/01/2009 14:31:15 »
How can we change this equation?

We can change the equation when adults get over the idea that learning is only for kids.  We can no longer afford the luxury of storing our intellect in the attic with our year book when our school daze are over.

I want to talk about learning.   

My experience leads me to conclude that there is a world of difference in picking up a fragment of knowledge here and there versus seeking knowledge for an answer to a question of significance.  There is a world of difference between taking a stroll in the woods on occasion versus climbing a mountain because you wish to understand what climbing a mountain is about or perhaps you want to understand what it means to accomplish a feat of significance only because you want it and not because there is ‘money in it’.

I think that every adult needs to experience the act of intellectual understanding; an act that Carl Sagan describes as “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

This quotation of Carl Rogers might illuminate my meaning:
 
I want to talk about learning. But not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity! I am talking about LEARNING - the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his 'cruiser'. I am talking about the student who says, "I am discovering, drawing in from the outside, and making that which is drawn in a real part of me." I am talking about any learning in which the experience of the learner progresses along this line: "No, no, that's not what I want"; "Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I need"; "Ah, here it is! Now I'm grasping and comprehending what I need and what I want to know!"


When we undertake such a journey of discovery we need reliable sources of information.  We need information that we can build a strong foundation for understanding.  Where do we find such reliable information?  We find it in the library or through Google on the Internet or combinations thereof.

I have a ‘Friends of the Library’ card from a college near me.  This card allows me, for a yearly fee of $25, to borrow any book in that gigantic library.  Experts in every domain of knowledge have written books just especially for laypersons like you and I.

Lincoln was an autodidact.  Perhaps self-actualizing self-learning is for you.  When your school daze is complete it is a good time to begin the learning process.

When a significant part of our adult population develops an intellectual life we can perhaps begin to comprehend the problems out society faces.

 

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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis
« Reply #9 on: 28/01/2009 14:31:15 »

 

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