In response to Kathy Gyngell: A life still worth living,
Lagopus scotica wrote:
I completely agree with Kathy, life is worth living, even at the very end. My father died in the first week of December, and that last week we spent with him, individually and as a family before he slipped into unconsciousness, and while he was declining, when we took it in turns to keep vigil at his bedside, will stay with me for ever. It brought us closer to him, and to each other, in ways I could never have anticipated.
We were lucky that the morphine was enough to keep him pain free, and I know that it must be very difficult where not enough has been prescribed. Part of me wishes that the old ‘doctor’s kindness’, giving a double dose of morphine to reduce pain and, if that hastens the inevitable, so be it, could have been applied and shortened his last four days, when he was unconscious, but I understand why, post-Shipman, this is no longer possible. We certainly need to look again at morphine prescription for people in agony; palliative care can still be improved.
To the pro-euthanasia brigade, I would say – would you want this to be the end of a very long wedge? Where would it end? And who will take that decision? Do you want to be sitting at the bedside of an innocent person who is about to be in effect executed? Or to be that person, waiting to be deliberately killed, whether you wanted it or not?
Whatever burdens we have to go through waiting at the bedside of someone who is dying, it is surely much better than waiting for the footsteps of the death-deliverer.
In my experience, it is painful enough saying that a dearly loved pet has to be put to sleep, but one’s own flesh and blood would be a burden too far for most of us (and if you think it wouldn’t be, I suggest you look up the symptoms of sociopathy and psychopathy).
Phil R wrote:
We have evolved, you see. We no longer wish to be obligated. Obligations place demands on us, and demands stop us doing selfish things that we are brainwashed into thinking will make us happy. So the elderly are encouraged to die and babies in the womb are killed simply because they might make demands on us.
My own mother died in a nursing home, and towards the end had lost her faculties. My experience differs a little from the author of this piece. She did receive good and compassionate care in the main. In some instances the care she received fell short. Mainly because there were so many in need, and, at times, that exceeded the capability of the home to cope. A sizeable minority of the residents were not suffering from dementia but were otherwise incapacitated, often by stroke. The majority were at some level in the grip of dementia. Some were reasonably content and amiable. Others were subject to mood swings and even violent behaviour. A few lived in permanent terror, bedridden and incontinent. Overall I found it a pretty grim prospect to contemplate. As our demographics shift towards an increasingly elderly population it is something that we simply must confront, and something we must plan for. In doing so we must put aside partisan politics. It will be a test of our humanity. We must not come up short.
Roy Davey-Jenkins wrote:
There are tears in my eyes as I write, for that was a tender and lovingly told story (with a heart-warming photo) that bears reading quite a few times.
The finish-them-off-brigade, those who view the frail elderly as nothing more than a drain on resources, past their sell-by date, outlived their usefulness, see nothing in the beauty here, the nobility still etched in the lined faces, the years of service in the gnarled hands and the living memories, now locked-in because of failing recall, but still there and real.
A society is judged by its attitude to its former moulders and contributors. Bless God that, although there are notable publicised exceptions, we still, by and large, retain a respect for the elderly and a desire to cherish them.