‘Why are we so obsessed with keeping the elderly alive?’

Oct 16, 2018
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Should elderly people who wish to end their life on their terms be afforded the right to die? Source: Stock

Old age brings with it many fears. After a lifetime of being able to choose our own path and make our own decisions, we are suddenly faced with the very real possibility of illness, dependency, being a burden to those we love and being afraid of when and how we are going to die.

We try to gain some kind of control with our will, funeral insurance, end of life plans — and if we are wealthy enough — moving into a retirement village, but we cannot prepare for it all.

As our body ages and parts wear out or weaken, it is a lottery as to what will give way first and what that failure will bestow on us. Will it be a quick, sudden death, long, lingering and ever weakening demise, an incredibly painful, fatal illness?

My dear old dad used to say, “I’ll live til I die and that will be that”, but in reality he lived a death that took months to reach its conclusion. Unable to communicate, he tried desperately to end it early, pulling out catheters and tubes whenever he was left alone.

In a world of overcrowding populations, where money and facilities that could be used to help younger people survive and live their lives are being spent on the elderly, why are we so obsessed with keeping the old alive when (and only when) they want to go?

How many older people would be able to live their lives with less fear and trepidation, knowing that they have control over the when and the how of their death? How many of us would like to go peacefully in the arms of their loved ones in their own bed, in their own home? To me that would be the ultimate end to a lovely life.

I, for one, could live the rest of my life happily instead of having the constant grey clouds of ‘what if’ hovering in my mind. Of course it is not for everyone, but shouldn’t we all have the right to choose euthanasia or not? Apparently, the ‘powers that be’ do not believe so.

Their reasoning is that there is a danger that it could be misused, however that danger exists with every law that is passed and it is very easy to include contingencies to limit those possibilities. Once again we are in a situation where the majority must suffer because of the fears of the few.

We brought the power brokers into this world, we loved them and nurtured them, raised them to be good people, elected them into parliament, and sadly gave them the power to deny us this right. When they reach the stage of life that we are at now, perhaps they will see things in a different light and perhaps by then, they too, will be powerless to instigate change.

How do you feel about euthanasia in Australia? Should older Australians wanting to end their lives be given the opportunity to do so freely?

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