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“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis


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#1    coberst

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 07:39 PM

“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis

Technology has increased longevity thereby making death even more frightful, expensive, tortuous, and perhaps accumulatively more painful than before.  Is this progress?

“Never before in history has it been so hard to fulfill our final earthly task: dying. It used to be that people were "visited" by death. With nothing to fight it, we simply accepted it and grieved. Today, thanks to myriad medications and interventions that have been created to improve our health and prolong our lives, dying has become a difficult and often excruciatingly slow process.” Craig Bowron, Physician

Bowron speaks of a woman who suffers from something that physicians call "the dwindles", which is essential a characteristic of old age in modern times. Three days a week she spends in dialysis so that she can spend the remaining four days of the week recovering; she is miserable seven days a week.

Bowron speaks of another patient who is 91 who lies in his bed helpless with painful swollen arthritic joints after being felled with a stroke.

There are no lifesaving medications in such cases; only life-prolonging pain can be offered.

Bowron informs us that “everyone wants to grow old and die in his or her sleep, but the truth is that most of us will die in pieces. Most will be nibbled to death by piranhas, and the piranhas of senescence are wearing some very dull dentures. It can be a torturously slow process, with an undeniable end, and our instinct shouldn't be to prolong it. If you were to walk by a Tilt-A-Whirl loaded with elderly riders and notice that all of them were dizzy to the point of vomiting, wouldn't your instinct be to turn the ride off? Or at the very least slow it down? Mercy calls for it.”

The good doctor is not speaking about euthanasia or even about the spiraling cost of health care; he is speaking about a sympathetic and rationalized dignity for those who have reached the end of a life worth living.

“In the past, the facade of immortality was claimed by Egyptian kings, egomaniacal monarchs and run-of-the mill psychopaths. But democracy and modern medical advances have made the illusion accessible to everyone. We have to rid ourselves of this distinctly Western notion before our nation's obesity epidemic and the surge of aging baby boomers combine to form a tsunami of infirmity that may well topple our hospital system and wash it out to sea.” Bowron

I think that the good doctor and I agree that there comes a time in life when “the only thing worse than dying is being kept alive”.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/story/2009/01/09/ST2009010903215.html




#2    Rosewin

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 01:22 PM

Most Americans are out of touch with the natural cycles which includes life and death. We have to go to make room for the younger, and if we live our lives well here, we will be ready to pass on the torch and know what we have accomplished, what we have learned, and who we have helped.

Prolonging life, whether good or bad, is dependent on what the reason is. If the reason is 'fear of death' and 'being afraid to die' then that is a pretty bad reason. Live better is the answer. Quality not quantity of years.

Edited by Rosewin, 28 January 2009 - 01:23 PM.


#3    coberst

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 12:21 PM

Our society and our technology has focused attention upon making a long life longer rather than making a longer life more valuable to the individual and the community.

A longer life span for humans on this planet is a matter that needs serious thought and dialogue.  Our technology makes for an ever increasing population inhabiting an ever smaller and more quickly consumed planet.  Technology brings us all closer together thereby making a science of morality of greater need.


We must somehow develop the sophistication required to enter into dialogue regarding such matters.

I think that we must develop a science of morality that can help us gain perspective regarding such matters.



#4    Rosewin

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 05:07 PM

Quote

I think that we must develop a science of morality that can help us gain perspective regarding such matters.


Bioethics?


#5    coberst

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 06:43 PM

bioethics is philosophy not a science of morality


#6    Mistydawn

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 06:52 PM

coberst on Jan 27 2009, 07:39 PM, said:

“Old Age ain’t for Sissies”—Betty Davis

Technology has increased longevity thereby making death even more frightful, expensive, tortuous, and perhaps accumulatively more painful than before.  Is this progress?

“Never before in history has it been so hard to fulfill our final earthly task: dying. It used to be that people were "visited" by death. With nothing to fight it, we simply accepted it and grieved. Today, thanks to myriad medications and interventions that have been created to improve our health and prolong our lives, dying has become a difficult and often excruciatingly slow process.” Craig Bowron, Physician

Bowron speaks of a woman who suffers from something that physicians call "the dwindles", which is essential a characteristic of old age in modern times. Three days a week she spends in dialysis so that she can spend the remaining four days of the week recovering; she is miserable seven days a week.

Bowron speaks of another patient who is 91 who lies in his bed helpless with painful swollen arthritic joints after being felled with a stroke.

There are no lifesaving medications in such cases; only life-prolonging pain can be offered.

Bowron informs us that “everyone wants to grow old and die in his or her sleep, but the truth is that most of us will die in pieces. Most will be nibbled to death by piranhas, and the piranhas of senescence are wearing some very dull dentures. It can be a torturously slow process, with an undeniable end, and our instinct shouldn't be to prolong it. If you were to walk by a Tilt-A-Whirl loaded with elderly riders and notice that all of them were dizzy to the point of vomiting, wouldn't your instinct be to turn the ride off? Or at the very least slow it down? Mercy calls for it.”

The good doctor is not speaking about euthanasia or even about the spiraling cost of health care; he is speaking about a sympathetic and rationalized dignity for those who have reached the end of a life worth living.

“In the past, the facade of immortality was claimed by Egyptian kings, egomaniacal monarchs and run-of-the mill psychopaths. But democracy and modern medical advances have made the illusion accessible to everyone. We have to rid ourselves of this distinctly Western notion before our nation's obesity epidemic and the surge of aging baby boomers combine to form a tsunami of infirmity that may well topple our hospital system and wash it out to sea.” Bowron

I think that the good doctor and I agree that there comes a time in life when “the only thing worse than dying is being kept alive”.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/story/2009/01/09/ST2009010903215.html



Imagine yourself lying on a hospital bed with iron clasps holding your legs and your arms in place, a big heavy weight on your chest.. you can't move. The room is dark and you are alone.  I bet, you will still want to survive, to live, as your brain is still in tact and your notion of 'soul' is still there.


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#7    Mattshark

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:25 PM

Mistydawn on Jan 31 2009, 06:52 PM, said:

Imagine yourself lying on a hospital bed with iron clasps holding your legs and your arms in place, a big heavy weight on your chest.. you can't move. The room is dark and you are alone.  I bet, you will still want to survive, to live, as your brain is still in tact and your notion of 'soul' is still there.

Sounds like being in Butlins.

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#8    Mistydawn

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:30 PM

Mattshark on Jan 31 2009, 08:25 PM, said:

Sounds like being in Butlins.

Butlins Matt? There is still such a place in existence?!!

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#9    brlesq1

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:46 AM

Quote

Technology has increased longevity thereby making death even more frightful, expensive, tortuous, and perhaps accumulatively more painful than before. Is this progress?


In the US, if a person is legally competent--and proving someone is not is a tough sell--they have the right to refuse all treatment that will prolong life. If they are not legally competent (due to coma, for example) if they've executed a living will (or final directive) it amounts to the same thing. If there is no final directive, the decision can be made by the closest next of kin, but that doesn't always work very well. Look at the case of Terry Schiavo, where her husband, who wanted to take her off life support, was pitted against her parents, who did not. An ugly situation.

Technology though, is not solely to blame. The law has a hand in this too. The movement culminating in the legalization of final directives stems from cases like Karen Quinlan's, a young woman who lay in a deep coma for well over a decade while her parents fought for the right to "pull the plug." The case went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in her parent's favor. Before that, if they'd taken her off life support, they would have been guilty of first degree murder. Today, many hospitals (if not all) give patients about to undergo major surgery a document that serves as a final directive, which a patient may or may not choose to sign.

Unfortunately, the law almost always lags behind technological progress.


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#10    coberst

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:19 PM

brlesq1 on Mar 6 2009, 02:46 AM, said:

Unfortunately, the law almost always lags behind technological progress.


We are very good at developing technology but we are very poor at developing the level of intellectual sophistication required to adapt to this very rapidly changing world driven by this new technology.  If we fail to adapt we will become toast.  I see little evidence that we have even the sophistication required to comprehend this simple fact.

Our educational system prepares us to be good at technology but gives us no clue as to how to become intellectually sophisticated.

Our educational system is designed to graduate good producers and consumers. It has been designed to satisfy the self-interest of those corporate leaders who determine public policy. They do not want independent Critical Thinking citizens who are argumentative and difficult to manipulate.



#11    brlesq1

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 07:19 PM

That's certainly true, especially with respect to how folks are educated to be ask-no-questions consumers. And you are correct about corporate self-interest. The prime motivating factor for keeping things the way they are is that there's a WHOLE lot of money to be made in keeping people alive as long as possible. New pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects--Chantix for one, Ambien for two--are blockbusters. Then, like you say, there are all those new toys to play with. And the tax deductions they're allowed for R&D are mind-boggling.


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#12    PsiSeeker

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 09:09 AM

I think all anyone really wants to do is die without fear of death however fear of death is what causes the mindless survival instinct to keep plodding on even when there is no point.  In my personal opinion people should be given the option to load themselves up with drugs that cause satisfaction/contention/happiness and then to be placed to sleep effectively creating the "dieing content in your sleep" scenario.  To me it seems ridiculous asking for anything else.

An illusion is an illusion.  The key difference between the two is that one is limited by time and the other by perception.




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