Archives for posts with tag: uncertainty

The only mention made of death in our society is usually through the old saying that taxes and death are the only two certainties in life. The rest of the time it seems to be a taboo subject. The only certainty about it is that it will happen, yet for most of us the how, where and when are not only complete uncertainties but not discussed.

I’m trying to work out how long I will last, given my current age, life expectancy for my age group and restrictions such as chronic illness. This sounds really potent yet seems to be the medical name for diabetes and other common diseases which affect life expectancy. I felt really doomed when I first heard the expression, but life has gone back to normal since then!

For older people it probably makes life a bit easier if we can work out a rough, probably inaccurate time limit. It gives us a bit of a time-line for things we would like to achieve before then, such as tidying up and sorting through possessions (called rather cutely ‘downsizing’!). It doesn’t seem to work for me, having recently passed on a whole lot of books I knew I would never read to charity, then restocking with other books I thought I might read!

The other uncertainties we face are the how  and where. Most people say they would like to die at home but few do. I suspect that this could be caused by medicos trying to use their new devises and medications on us when we would prefer to just quietly leave this world.

The big problem is the current discussion we are currently having in Australia about being allowed to do have a hand in our death and allow us to advance it when medication is not currently available to so painlessly. Euthanasia has almost been a taboo topic and is often described as murder. There are quite a few countries intelligent enough to allow it under very strict conditions and it seems to work well, with the conditions imposed preventing abuse. The opponents to this practise seem to base their objections on reasoning which is not based on intelligence and knowledge. These are often the same people who oppose same-sex marriage and abortion. The problem is that although their ranks are being reduced because more people are applying reason and logic to arguments, based on modern knowledge, these groups still have a traditional influence which they inflict on all of us.

If people oppose those of us who want to be able to die to escape excruciating pain, why should this minority be allowed to dictate what we choose to do? If I still looked at the world through religious eyes I suspect I would think that if God hadn’t yet released to us the knowledge to reduce all pain to a bearable level, then why shouldn’t we use the God-given knowledge we already have to choose to end our suffering? How heartless are these people if they are prepared to force their own families to have to watch them suffer needlessly, often for weeks and months? Not my idea of a Christian, loving world in which we really care about those we love, as well as our neighbours, in its full definition.

Dying would be less of a worrying uncertainty if people didn’t have to face the possibility of unrelieved excruciating pain accompanying it. Lets at least make this a certainty.

To me the worst part about getting older is the uncertainty. The ultimate is not knowing how much longer we have left on this earth- it could be anything from 1 to 20 years (it may be even longer but I assume that beyond then I will be a very different me, particularly physically).
Last week I got the flu. I had had the vaccine months previously but apparently when they were deciding which strains to include this year they missed one which led to a flu epidemic some weeks ago (goodness knows why I’ve waited until now!). Normally the vaccine works for me and I haven’t had flu for decades. In those days I was much younger and fitter so I could just write a week off then take up where I left off. Today ageing makes things very different. I still don’t know when I can tick it off and move on and be back to normal.
One of my elderly friends has been frustrated by the restrictions of pneumonia recovery for weeks.
Apart from these interludes providing a temporary but longer than before setback we still have to allow for the fact that prolonged setbacks could occur at any stage, including the ultimate setback of the end of it all. It makes life planning very difficult. Should I try to get everything done now as though I haven’t long or can I work my way leisurely through what I want to achieve and assume I have enough time, and the capacity, to get everything done? Maybe as this will give me a much more enjoyable life I should stick to it and hope that if I don’t finish what I want to do others will take over and complete it. Some of the things I want and aim for, such as an older person representing us at the United Nations and older people running conferences on ageing are unlikely to occur for a quite a while (decades) anyway. For the latter what I want would mean we older people would be a majority on the organising committees, we would provide the majority of speakers and the majority of the audience at conferences on ageing. I can’t see any of that being achieved in my lifetime. Those involved in research into ageing are unlikely to admit that without us older people their knowledge of ageing is limited. I’ve just finished reading some recent research into the volunteering areas in which retirees put their time and effort. The book involved a large number of researchers across several European countries and would have involved a lot of expense leading to this result. Oops! What they should have said was that these were the areas of volunteering currently available for older retirees. I am arguing that the talents, expertise and knowledge of older people should be harnessed to allow for the creativity older people could bring to the community if given the opportunity. This would open up new areas for volunteering. This is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow societies are currently missing out on.
I wonder to what extent my somewhat morbid thoughts are inspired by the fact that I bet on the horse that died in the recent Melbourne Cup? He was very, very valuable and I assume that no expense would have been spared on his health needs yet he still managed to have a heart attack doing what he had been specifically trained to do. I don’t stand a chance compared with him!!!