Just finished chatting with my Octogenarian Mentor/Friend and I remembered that I wanted to introduce this topic early. This is early – Blog #2.
If you’ve never seen or heard a ‘Ted Talk’, I encourage you to find it on the web. Peter Saul presented his ‘Big Idea’ in a talk called “Let’s Talk About Dying”. I’m just going to paraphrase a few points he makes. 1) Dying in our culture is shaping up to be train wreck; 2) The medical model tells us they’re providing “life-saving’ treatments. That’s not true. Life prolonging, yes. 3) We no longer have answers to what we’re dying from. Well, how about old age and the impermanence of all things; the natural life cycle.
How Do We Die? 1) sudden death – rare; 2) Terminal Illness – younger people; 3) Organ Failure, and 4) If we reach the age of 80, it is more likely to be Progressive Weakness, Frailty, Dwindling.
Unfortunately, in spite of all the information and resources available, our society doesn’t want to talk about it. Risking a political comment, but just look at how our Legislators can’t talk about Social Security or Medicare, with wisdom. The Greatest Obstacles are Cultural Issues and our prevailing Images of Death, i.e. ‘The Grim Reaper’.
Could you imagine the impact on our society if the majority of Baby Boomers Reclaimed the trajectory of their lives from the Medical Model?
Nick Bostrom said, in a Ted Talk called “Our Biggest Problem”, that 2/3 of us will die from old age.
But, along this road to increasingly frailty, how much medical intervention do we use to prolong our weakening? I’ve had many patients receiving pace-makers in their 80’s and 90’s, and the quality of their lives were not significantly improved. I sometimes think that they were given a ‘false sense of security’ that deluded them into thinking that they still didn’t have to prepare for dying. It’s a horrible term but sometimes I felt as if they were the ‘un-dead’. How many ‘maintenance’ meds are WE taking? I’ve seen people eating more ‘maintenance meds’ than they ate real food. How many times in the last 2 years of life do we want to have to go the hospital for ‘maintenance’?
I can’t help but wonder how much of our HealthCare Resources would be available for making a better world for our children if we used less to maintain our, NATURALLY, weakening bodies? Shouldn’t we call the ‘above’ our ‘Illness Care’ Resources?