Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Something's wrong in how the elderly are dying

Something’s wrong in life when the elderly are complaining about wanting to die, as they have "lived too long". I'm sure many of you have parents or grandparents that you've heard use the phrase, "I wish I could just go, fall asleep and not wake up". What modern medicine has done to keep people's bodies alive, also needs to be done to help keep that life worth living. Otherwise, we are wasting our efforts saving people that ultimately don't want to be saved. I have two people in my life who feel that way. One wants to be "taken" by God and join her husband who died a few years ago, and the other is just tired and, instead of having a heart attack and dying, is dying a thousand deaths, by parts of her body failing a little at a time.

First she lost control of her swallowing, then she lost touch as to how she was truly feeling, then she started to lose her short term memory, then she started to lose some feeling in her foot and couldn't tell she had a broken blister the size of a baseball, then she started to lose control of her urine followed recently by losing control of her bowels. Her heart is starting to finally give up. It's painful to watch her degrade over time and to be powerless, as she has been a happy person most of her life. Normally people use to just die in their 70's, then the age of death moved to the 80's and now it's in the 90's. The quality of life for the elderly has much to be sad about. I watched a show last night where volunteers were playing a guitar and singing for a group of elderly. The elderly were in a circle and the volunteers asked them to join in the singing. They had staff encouraging them to sing, but you could see on their faces that the elderly weren't doing it for themselves but only to please the volunteers. How sad.

We could do so much with the money that has been wasted over the past 6 plus years on wars and conflicts, if we devoted some resources to understanding this problem, as it is getting worse not better and we will all be there eventually. If nothing else for selfish reasons, let's get some better understanding as a country as to how we as a society are dealing with the elderly. I surely don't have any good answers. If you have any, leave a comment. Thanks.

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