Yesterday I attended a conference mainly with older people to discuss ‘Living wills’ through which we can determine how much medical intervention we want if we become incapacitated. Personally I just want to be left to die in peace without having tubes, or worse, pushed into my orifices! My argument is that at nearly 76 I’ve had a good run and being forced to extend it, probably distressingly, is not what I would want.
It’s important that our relatives know of our wishes if we are not capable of saying what we want. My son asked if my refusal also applied to mouth to mouth resuscitation. I had a second think about that and decided if it was being done by a nice young, handsome gentleman I’d make an exception!
This is a really important issue as prolonging life when it is no longer viable takes up a lot of our precious health dollars. The cost of patients in intensive care runs to many thousands of dollars a day.
The issue is really important but by lunch time I had had enough. We were seated at small tables and the others all seemed to be people who were just filling in time in their lives. As a result they didn’t seem to have much that was worthwhile to say but since they had an opportunity with a captive audience they were determined to have their say.
This seems to happen whenever older people are consulted. A couple of years ago a forum was held by the local government for older people in this area. Once again the ‘has beens’ held the floor and not much has changed.
We need to make changes in our society as the population ages but nothing will change if the only people who are consulted are those who have dropped out of the workforce and are not doing much in their lives. We need to promote the idea that this is not a desirable or healthy way to age. Just because we get older it doesn’t mean that we are no longer capable of achieving. That’s the easiest way for our brains to deteriorate. It also means that we aren’t capable of creating the optimum conditions in which to age. After all we are the first generation for which ageing in the traditional sense covers several decades. We need to create an appropriate society not just for ourselves but for those who come after us.