Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Did anyone else watch Frontline tonight?
Living Old was an examination into how our society is going to deal with caring for 70 Million people over the age of 65..
that's right over the next 30 years twenty per cent (1 in 5) of the population will be older adults.
The fastest growing segment of society is the 85+ crowd..we are about to become the first mass geriatric society.

Apparently unless you have 3 daughters or daughters in law to take care of you..
you won't be dying at home in your bed..
which is the fantasy death that everyone craves..
go to sleep and never wake up...
but most of us will die in a hospital.

Our system is not set up to handle this crisis and all of the Doctors who were featured in this show vowed to NEVER EVER let their lives deteriorate to these pathetic physical and mental levels of most of the 85+ patients..
the Doctors, like myself, all seemed intent on optting out if you know what I mean.

Up until maybe fifty years ago most people had the good sense and common decency to go when their time was up...before our modern invasive miracles. Now if a body cannot not sustain life they can artificailly preserve it and grant the family of the beloved the joy of waiting for a medical catastrophe to end their life.

Young people are afraid of not living forever and old people are afraid of living forever.

How about you?

Do you want to stay alive for as long as possible,
at any cost, no matter what condition your body is in?


  1. I'll get back to you on this question after I get my dad sorted out... (And your timing is very creepy as he just had a[nother] stroke.)

  2. andrea,
    I am sorry to hear that...of course I am talking about my own wishes here...everyone in my family usually goes fast and hard..none of us 'linger'so it has never been much of an issue.

    I know that it must be terrible to be forced to make some of those decisions..especially if you had never discussed the situation.

    I have only really had to endure watching my Grandma fade..I loved her to bits...it was as surreal as it was sad.

    I know a lot of people in the Medical profession who witness the drama of life and death on a daily basis...they look at bodies differently..even though they see the odd miracle..what they really see is how terribly inept and unprepared we are as a society when it comes to dealing with dying.

    Andrea I hope that your situation unfolds accordingly and that whatever happens, decisions or otherwise, happens peacefully for everyone involved.

  3. i always had this fantasy that i would live forever. but i never thought that my body would have to deteriorate for that to be possible. i have remnants of the thing called Youth in me. that thing that makes you fool yourself. and dress in defiance. and sieze moments. and other stuff.

    apparently, i didn't answer the question.

    missed this space. and you, too, of course.

  4. Well, both of my parents had rather long, drawn out and gruesome deaths from cancer (I was sixteen when my mother died) so I've had quite a cynical (or possibly realistic?) view of death and dying for a long time, and realise that, as you say, most people don't just die in their sleep at home as they'd wish. I really don't want medical intervention if I'm very ill. What's the point of living to ninety if your quality of life is negligible and people around you have to see you suffering?

  5. missed you too{illyria},
    I suppose that most of us want to live forever, except of course for the 40,000 people who check out voluntarily everyday, and if there was a way to do it we'd all do it.

    On the show there were a couple of people who were well into their 90s and still lucid and some lived on their own! That is amazing..
    but most were severely incapacitated and their quality of life was negligible. I don't know..I certainly don't want that.

    hi betty,
    Oh dear, I certainly hope that you understand my flippant remarks weren't mean't to demean the horror of watching your loved ones fade..what a living nightmare.
    I was struck by the enormity of the situation.
    In order to manage the situation I decided that the Boomers and Gen-Xrs will develop drive-thru 'recycling stations' out of their frustration.

  6. No offence taken! You make some valuable points, anyway. Certainly it seems to be implied nowadays that, if we eat the right food, exercise, go for regular health check ups and so on we can cheat death in some way. Perhaps people have to have some sort of consolation that they can live forever because fewer and fewer of us (in the West at least) believe in an afterlife?

  7. betty,
    You betcha! Do the James Dean!

    pssst hey kids..want to be a Cultural Icon?
    The shrewdest of career moves is too exit stage left abruptly and well before your time...it 's almost guaranteed!

  8. As to the question of being kept alive by any means necessary no matter what condition I'm in - I say F**K NO. I have a couple of serious health conditions that have put me in the hospital at death's door a few times, and if I lose my ability to care for myself, I will overdose and take myself out. That's the short version, but I NEVER want to be kept alive when I'm brain dead or unable to move or speak or anything else. Just Effing Kill Me. Seriously.

  9. nuh-uh, no way!
    if i can no longer drive myself around or can't be left alone at home for fear of me accosting the neighbourhood cats and scaring the children- i want out!
    and besides, i only have one son...

  10. angel,
    C'mon every neighbourhood needs a 'crazy cat lady'!

  11. tidalgrrrl,
    I know that you have been knock, knock, knockin' a few times..I think that is why you are so fearless now.
    I have a sneaky suspiscion that this matter will be resolved by a future soylent green legislation...mmmm...that's a damn fine Boomer Burger!

    verification was ibfWHY!

  12. Anonymous11:09 a.m.

    I'm sorry about your Dad, Andrea.

    My Mother went through the slow death of emphysema and died in 1999 at 69. Horrible way to die and checking your Mom into a nursing home when you are 33 sucks monkey balls. So, I didn't watch the show because I know all too well what it's about.

    My Dad is a financial planner dealing with these older people on a daily basis. We just buried his 92 year old Mother in December after a year of hell for her and his Mother-in-Law is 94 and in a nursing home - for the last three years. He's been saying for years he's going to contact the Hemlock Society so he can exercise his options (financial person joke). He did so in March, to the horror of my stepMom, but I say "good for you - just leave me a mess to clean up" :D

    "Our system is not set up to handle this crisis" No, it's not, and Dad's been talking about this for at least 10 years. He's convinced that come 2010 there will be a financial meltdown in the US with all the oldest boomers pulling out of the job markets and starting to tap their (apathetic) retirement plans. He's thinking we're headed for another 1930's-like depression.

    I say, bring it on! We need a serious correction in our direction and a meltdown of the economy would be a good thing. But I don't think it will be as bad as Dad thinks.

    Kids going to college right now? I have one word: geriatrics.

    But that wasn't the subject: Do I want to stay alive for as long as possible at any cost no matter what condition my body is in?

    No, no and a thousand times NO! So, I have a DNR and a Living Will and everyone knows if they do ANYTHING to bring me back I'll only survive to kill them. Let me die in peace and with dignity.

  13. Anonymous11:11 a.m.


    That should have been "just Don't leave me the mess to clean up"

    not being able to edit sucks too!

  14. h.e.: ours is a generation that is going to remake geriatric living arrangements. we'll pool our resources and live in home like situations and share our skills and interests. maybe our rocking chairs will be near eachother...

    i didn't see this program, so i'm missing facts and information, but i do think we will plan out how we live, how we age, and how we die.


  15. Hello HE,

    Thank you for visiting and leaving that sweet comment about my hubby's big day.

    I come to your blog and I get this question. My father died at 81 at home, having been bedridden for three years under the care of private nurses in the morning and care givers at night. We converted our living room into a hospital room. We had to do this because in the Philippines, we do not have nursing homes. People die at the hospital or at home. It was very expensive. The reason why my father lasted long was because we had money to care for him. My mother died at 84 at the hospital on the day she was to be discharged. We knew she was in critical condition and was preparing to go home and spend her remaining days at home. My sister and I both nurses in the US went home and took care of our mother 24 hours/day for three weeks. We both slept in the hospital with her. We also hired private nurses 24 hours so we were able to get some rest. It was the best nursing job I've ever done. If the summary of my career would mean the three weeks I took care of my dying mother, it is all worth it. My sister and I pronounced our mother's clinical death.

    As for me, I am hoping to live healthy and die of a heart attack from orgasm when I am 84.

  16. laura e,
    You have lived through this already..it must have been very disturbing. It is hard to separate the theory and the practicum of this application when it is close to home.
    I think that your Dad was on to something...the instant gratification generation has lived by borrowing..their parents saved up before they actually purchased something?! The chickens will come home to roost and it will be ugly.
    The sheer volume of Boomers was a blessing and a curse...they inflated housing costs because of the demand that they created...houses are NOT worth what they are selling at and when the Boomers start unloading them watch out!
    I am with you on the DNR if I was forced to come back I would have Terminator parts put in my body to exact my revenge...

    forget Arnold's
    "I'll be back!"...

    give me Englebert Humperdink's
    "Please re---lease me let me goooo!"

  17. kj,
    You are right our governments will be forced to dream up all sorts of compromises to accomodate the huge glut of golden oldies. The problem is that most people ignore the future and hope that the government will somehow fill the coffers when the old age pensions deplete them...when the German gov't dreamed up old age security the Kaiser's cronies picked 65 because very few Germans lived that long...now we have people who could be on Old Age for 30 years!!!
    There is nfw that it will work under our known economic models.

    Sorry to hit you with this..I usually discuss ridiculously inane subjects...gulp...
    wow that is amazing...on the program there were several children (most in their 50s or older) who were taking care of their parents in their homes, many who did it full time...there was a retired doctor who paid $150,000 yr for 24 hr homecare!

    Huzzah for the orgasmic miocardial infarction at 84!

  18. Nope, would not want to live in a compromised state. I have thought about this question a lot, and have blogged about it here. I firmly believe that science and technology keeps humans alive beyond our natural physical capabilities. How dependent should we be on pills and machines and etc. and still consider ourselves to be living a natural life? I think we will be forced to deal with these issues more and more as the earth continues to experience more violent natural and man made disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

  19. angela,
    Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! Immortal Stem Cells..oh my heart be still.
    It would be like living as a vampire and watching everyone you loved die and but you go on for centuries being tormented by your prison...wait for it...cue Celine..in 3...2...1

    Every night in my dreams
    I see you. I feel you.
    That is how I know you go on.

    Far across the distance
    And spaces between us
    You have come to show you go on.

    Near, far, wherever you are
    I believe that the heart does go on
    Once more you open the door
    And you're here in my heart
    And my heart will go on and on and on and on and on and on and on....

  20. H.E. - No you Di'Hint just do a Celine....!

    ACCCCCCCCCCK! Screw waiting until I'm old and feeble. Kill me NOW!

  21. tidalgrrrl!
    How could I resist a big slow fat pitch right down the middle...hey wait a minute I pitched that baby to myself..DOH..sorry!
    Oh wth she is a National Treasure afterall!

  22. JUst like my grandad i wish to die peacefully in my sleep... not like the people in the car with him.

    I want to live aslong as i have quality of life. If i am 90 years old chasing nurses and jumping out of aero planes i will be happy. If i am bed ridden ill ask my kids to pull the plug. No point in living if you feel alive.

  23. AIDAN!
    beep beep beep!
    You have just won best reply of the month HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    like my grandad....HAHAHAHAHHA!

    Of course if it was a true story that's terrible, TERRIBLE!
    Just covering my ass today since I was so cavalier about this whole thing and all of these people have these gut wrenching stories and here I am...oh hell you know what it's like to open your mouth to trade feet why am I explaining this to you?

  24. HELL TO THE NO!!!!

    When it's time to croak, it's time to croak and I will hopefully live long enough yet die soon enough... being too old is just not a goal... especially if it'll come with tons of problems and if ever I am in a position where I am on life support, comatose or might wake up a vegetable, I need to be offed... I eat vegetable dammit! I don't wanna be one...

    Brings to mind Michael pervert pedophile bastard Jackson's yammerings of "You're a vegetable" to mind... ugh! what have you done to me with this post HE? WHAT?

    Ok... so I am checking up on vid requests... your so far have been to see me in full rant mode and dancing to I wanna live in America?

    Ay!... will get on it! Not up now but will be some day... dios mio you are EVIL!

  25. I have been telling my folks for years that they could count on me to be their Death Angel. There will be NO artificially prolonged lounging around. In fact, I could make a judgment around someone's quality of life at anytime. Piss and moan to me, will you?

  26. miz bo to the hemia!
    Super NOVAs like you do not go quietly into the night...they implode and become gravitational vacuums that absorb everything..even light itself!
    I cannot see you doing well in a home..nope, nope, nope.. you take care of yourself anyway I wouldn't worry too much...except for those gawdamm teeth!
    YES PLEASE sing I want to be in a-mer-ree-ka! Do it Do it! That would be awesome to infinity!
    I am sorry that Michael Jackson was invoked...I will try to rectify the sitch with my Michael Jackson voodoo doll..pronto!

    Oooh is it hot in here or is it just me? Are you wearing a Nurses uniform right now?
    Well what are ya gonna do..you might as well let them know...they are going to waste every last penny of your inheritence on collector plates and spinning hub caps on the motor home anyway!

  27. Anonymous4:45 p.m.

    I would want my plug pulled once I'm, you know, just out of it. I don't want to be lying in bed with nurses cleaning me with a sponge. That's not living, and it's a hell of a drain on our healthcare system.

  28. I deal with this issue every working day, and sometimes I think something in me has died having to deal with this insane fear of allowing anyone to die when their time is well overdue. It pisses me off that our society has to pay the bill to have 93 year old brain dead grandma "trached and pegged" and shipped off to the specialty nursing care facility so that she can curl up into a fetal positon due to no physical therapy, get bedsores which go to the bone, and return several times to to the critical care unit to be brought back from the brink and the whole process repeats itself until even our wonderful advanced medical technology can't keep her rotting flesh alive any longer. There IS a hell, and I work in it.

  29. Right now I love the way I look and feel. And I really dread old age. Cos I have seen oldies suffering from back-aches and wutnots :)

    I dun wanna suffer. As a follower of Buddhism, I have always known that nothing is permanent in this life. The body is a good example. So when my body becomes an unbearable carcass to carry ard, I'd rather be dead than live an invisible and painful life. I have always told my mum to put me to sleep if an accident or some serious illness were to put me in a vegetative state. When my soul is dead, should my body live? NO.

    No offense to anyone.


  30. What a provocative post. Having spent years working in a nursing home, and later praying for forgiveness for too often forgetting that they were people with real, full lives (behind them) I pray that me and mine will die suddenly, and whilst having a big laugh, or a big sandwhich, or anything but slowly rotting towards the other side. Growing old with your pee and your brains all draining out of various orafaces is quite sad. Surreal.

  31. androgynousblogger,
    I know what you mean, guys spend their entire lives trying to get someone to pull their plug.
    If I was ever 'gorked', as they call it in the biz, I would hope that some thoughtful person would accidently trip over the power cord in the middle of the night and free me.

    THE michael,
    What is it that makes people think that they have to maintain a pulse on nosferatu..the living dead.. when everything else is just desperately trying to shut down..naturally.

    Why is it that we enter into the religious/bio ethic quicksand just thinking about it? We all play 'god' everytime we start our cars and drive into traffic...when did we get so far removed from nature?

    I was always fascinated with the Inuit (Eskimo) tales of shoving old people off to die on an ice flow when the resources were scarce..apparently more often than not the elderly drowned themselves because they didn't want to be a burden or they were simply left to die..and apparently taken back if they managed to catch up.
    I read that the whole ice flow thing is a literary and hollywood touch of dramatic license.

    In the not to distant future Senilicide will be given a shinier new name for our PC lexicon (much like illegal aliens became undocumented workers and juvenile delinquents became children at risk) but I believe that it will happen out of gridlock in the medical field and practical necessity more than anything else..perhaps even a little kindness, and common sense.

    Chillax mate! You don't have to worry about that for about 50 years!
    What if they decided to harness all of the human electrical energy like they do in movies like The Matrix or AI?
    That would be so gross.
    When you think about this it makes you want to go out and shake your booty don't it? Seize the day!

  32. joyce,
    It is pathetic but when it is someone that you KNEW you transfer all of your mental imagery and memories and project them on to the motionless form before you.

    While I am completely sold on ces's idea of an orgasmic heart attack as the 'way to go', in a pinch if I was pressed for time I would settle for anonymousblogger's idea of someone pulling my wire.


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