I have been discussing the incident of my elderly friend who was taken to casualty at a private hospital with quite a few older people. Even though she had been able to walk in she was asked if she wanted to be resuscitated if the need arose. What surprised me was that there seems to be agreement among my older friends that when the time comes we want to be left to die in peace now that we are elderly. No resuscitation thanks.
At least part of the problem seems to be that doctors feel that they are obliged to keep us alive at all costs. A friend from France tells me that they have solved the problem, at least partially, by changing this obligation with a ‘let out’ clause which absolves the doctor when appropriate from following this. It made me realise once again that ageing is a phenomena which is happening across the western world. It seems silly that the different states and territories in Australia can’t agree on a document that all could subscribe to but if this the case why can’t we look at how other, similar, countries are dealing with it, possibly adopting the commonalities of their documents? I am assuming (hoping) that some of the other comparable countries have consulted older people in writing these document formats. It seems silly to live in a country where perhaps older people are fearing death, not for what it might bring but for what the doctors feel they are obliged to do to us!
I remember reading an account of how residents in an aged care facility had red stickers on their doors if they did not want resuscitation. This meant that if medical staff were called to their room their wishes would be respected. There was a discussion about whether this violated their rights to privacy. As a result of this the red stickers were removed. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that this discussion was restricted to the medical staff and the older people themselves were not invited to participate in the discussion! If they had been I suspect that they would probably have suggested, and voted for, that the older residents themselves, on an individual basis, had the stickers on their doors or not. I know I would have preferred the security of having it there. Ageism comes in all different forms, particularly when it comes to actually talking to us and having discussions with us.
Another book on this topic described the experience of another older person who was admitted to hospital. Each specialist had their own idea of what they wanted to do but they neither discussed the options with her or other members of the medical team. The result was disastrous in every sense of the word.
I suspect I’ll be asking for older people to be included in discussions about their lives, including their health, until I draw my own last breath but I won’t, can’t, give up. The present situation is nonsensical.