(Not a funny one. Not funny at all.)
Old age has probably always been a bugger.
I think it’s going to get way worse pretty soon.
I toured a dementia unit last week, and my heart was on the ground.
At the same time, one friend’s Mom, in her 80s, is about to die.
Another friend’s Dad, also in his 80s, already did die from a heart attack.
But medical science brought him back and is keeping him alive, and forcing so many awful questions.
Although losing my Mom was beyond awful back in 1986, at “just 69”, in at least one huge way it was a blessing.
I didn’t have to make end-of-life decisions, or battle with healthcare providers or Big Government who want to save money by pulling the plug.
Meds Down Under
New Zealand’s public hospital system, probably rates pretty high by world standards.
If you get in.
And getting in is getting harder, especially if you are old.
Our government’s policy is to support people as they “age in place”, e.g. at home.
This sounds lovely, but what it does really is keep healthcare costs down.
It keeps old people out of the hospital until they are really sick.
By the time they get into hospital, they are so frail that they oftentimes don’t last very long (or cost the Government as much).
The economics of aging and dying are odious, especially as people live longer, and what used to be rare becomes the new normal.
Touring the dementia unit really hit me hard.
It made me look into the U.S. facts, and they are truly scary.
- 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimers now
- By 2025, that will be 7.1 million
- By 2050, it will almost double to 13.8 million
Which raises some really big questions. Especially this one:
Who will care for them?
Rather, who will care for US?
Because most of us Baby Boomers will live into our 80s.
And the 80s goes hand-in-hand with Alzheimers.
Since we’ve done such a terrible job of procreation, there won’t be enough young people to a) look after us or b) pay enough taxes so that we are cared for.
The Christian West long ago quit believing that “however you care for the least of these” was the true reflection of how civilized you were; how holy you were.
That undeniable truth is easily proven by abortion statistics.
We’ve surgically aborted 50 million of of the most defenseless of these, and the “right to die argument” is accepted as “reasonable” by more and more people every day.
One simply had to follow the other. Life is precious. Or it is not.
We have made it not.
And that decision is going to come visit us soon enough.
I wonder whether we have paid it any mind.
Does anyone believe that our Culture of Death will not, in the end, make the decision on how long we will live?
Especially if we have dementia or some other long-term, chronic disease.
Do we not believe that some “Life-Unworthy-of-Life” health subcommittee will set the “parameters” of what constitutes “life”?
Or that many if not most doctors will follow them by rote?
The medical community long ago abandoned the Hippocratic Oath, which says:
“I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”
When we are old and weak and maybe mindless, killing us will be so much cheaper and “more humane” than keeping us alive.
Putting us out of our misery.
Putting us out of their misery.
It will be ever so much easier than caring for us; suffering with us; showing us compassion; being Christ-like.
The truly hard stuff of life.
I hear some say that “euthanasia” means nothing to people with dementia; they are “gone already”.
I don’t know about that.
But I do know this:
It will mean everything to the living who let it happen.
They, WE, shall reap what we sow.
Alas, at least for today, there is still compassion; at least in pockets.
Both of my friends are caring for their elderly parents, as they die, as they prepare to go to God.
They will also care for the surviving parent, whose suffering will continue, though in a different form.
Having this luxury of love and compassion, is going to get rarer and rarer for us Boomers, methinks.
As the dollars and the love get smaller and smaller.
That’s the hard truth, or at least how it seems to me.