A few days ago I added a must read link to Michael Wolff’s New York Magazine article, A Life Worth Ending. It’s an eye-opening piece, detailing long drawn-out decline of his mother. Check it out — it really is a must read.
For our parents there are no easy end-of-life answers. Those of us with older moms and dads still living active and full lives are lucky, but one only has to sit in a Starbucks or linger near the water cooler at work to hear frightening and very sad stories. No one wants to die the long drawn-out way as a helpless invalid,
The single conclusion that I reach is less about my parents lives — we can’t turn the clock back — than it is about my own. At some time in my life, if I reach an advanced age, I need to make some clear and thoughtful decisions about how much medical care I will use … or not use.
Two Quotes from Wolff’s Article to Make You Want to Read More
— By promoting longevity and technologically inhibiting death, we have created a new biological status held by an ever-growing part of the nation, a no-exit state that persists longer and longer, one that is nearly as remote from life as death, but which, unlike death, requires vast service, indentured servitude really, and resources.
— The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die. Part of the advance in life expectancy is that we have technologically inhibited the ultimate event. We have fought natural causes to almost a draw.
I think this is a huge problem, but it doesn’t have to be! Some people say this as if living longer is a “death sentence” for poor quality of life. The real issue is the typical Western lifestyle / diet. People’s health deteriorates because of their poor lifestyle choices, and they’re kept alive with drugs. The real solution to this problem is prevention, truly treating diseases rather than just addressing the symptoms.