Is life worthless after 75?

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GloriaInTX's picture
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Is life worthless after 75?

Do you agree with Ezekiel Emanual that life isn't worth living after age 75 and you become a drain on humanity?

Why I Hope to Die at 75 - The Atlantic

Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
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I don't even have to read this to know I disagree. My grandmother is 95 and still contributing and still awesome. She isn't a drain on anybody.

My dad turned 72 this year and he is a dynamic, amazing, person with many years left of enriching the lives of all who love him, and there are many of us.

My family aside, articles like this are just silly. (I skimmed it.)

AlyssaEimers's picture
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I also did not read the article, but I can tell you there can be a lot of life left after 75. My FIL is 72 I think. I can not imagine saying that his life is not worth living or won't be worth living in 3 years. How insulting to an older person.

MissyJ's picture
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Absolutely not. I love many of my older relatives and find them highly functioning and definitely not a 'drain on humanity.' Even those elderly that I've helped care for in their later years all have had something of value even up to the end.

I DO understand that there does come a particular age when you may make different choices in health care options but those vary based upon the person's overall condition and prognosis.

I have had relatives at 92 - thriving and participating fully in activities and one of their younger siblings struggle at 75. It just depends on so many different factors!

GloriaInTX's picture
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I think these thoughts are a little scary coming from someone who helped write Obamacare. The idea that someone over 75 should just lay down and die if they get sick instead of using healthcare resources is chilling to me. What does that say about people who are disabled? The idea that someone who is not in perfect health and not contributing to society is somehow less valuable as a person is sickening. Elderly people have paid their debt and deserve our respect and to be taken care of even when they are no longer able to care for themselves.

Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won’t actively end my life. But I won’t try to prolong it, either. Today, when the doctor recommends a test or treatment, especially one that will extend our lives, it becomes incumbent upon us to give a good reason why we don’t want it. The momentum of medicine and family means we will almost invariably get it.

My attitude flips this default on its head. I take guidance from what Sir William Osler wrote in his classic turn-of-the-century medical textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine: “Pneumonia may well be called the friend of the aged. Taken off by it in an acute, short, not often painful illness, the old man escapes those ‘cold gradations of decay’ so distressing to himself and to his friends.”

My Osler-inspired philosophy is this: At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless. And that good reason is not “It will prolong your life.” I will stop getting any regular preventive tests, screenings, or interventions. I will accept only palliative—not curative—treatments if I am suffering pain or other disability.

This means colonoscopies and other cancer-screening tests are out—and before 75. If I were diagnosed with cancer now, at 57, I would probably be treated, unless the prognosis was very poor. But 65 will be my last colonoscopy. No screening for prostate cancer at any age. (When a urologist gave me a PSA test even after I said I wasn’t interested and called me with the results, I hung up before he could tell me. He ordered the test for himself, I told him, not for me.) After 75, if I develop cancer, I will refuse treatment. Similarly, no cardiac stress test. No pacemaker and certainly no implantable defibrillator. No heart-valve replacement or bypass surgery. If I develop emphysema or some similar disease that involves frequent exacerbations that would, normally, land me in the hospital, I will accept treatment to ameliorate the discomfort caused by the feeling of suffocation, but will refuse to be hauled off.

What about simple stuff? Flu shots are out. Certainly if there were to be a flu pandemic, a younger person who has yet to live a complete life ought to get the vaccine or any antiviral drugs. A big challenge is antibiotics for pneumonia or skin and urinary infections. Antibiotics are cheap and largely effective in curing infections. It is really hard for us to say no. Indeed, even people who are sure they don’t want life-extending treatments find it hard to refuse antibiotics. But, as Osler reminds us, unlike the decays associated with chronic conditions, death from these infections is quick and relatively painless. So, no to antibiotics.

Obviously, a do-not-resuscitate order and a complete advance directive indicating no ventilators, dialysis, surgery, antibiotics, or any other medication—nothing except palliative care even if I am conscious but not mentally competent—have been written and recorded. In short, no life-sustaining interventions. I will die when whatever comes first takes me.

KimPossible's picture
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To try to bring this back to obamacare is a ridiculous stretch especially when he makes it clear along the way that this is a personal choice and he's talking about his own life.

Now that I have that out of the way. I think most people will disagree with him. We have a strong will to live, we are emotional and we don't like to look at facts quite as objectively as he has.

I think he's perfectly within his rights to have his opinion and i don't find it 'scary'...its just something he believes.

Me, I have an unhealthy fear of death so I think when 75 comes, I'll be telling you i have no desire to die or not continue to try living!

He talks about people over the age of 75 being a drain. Everyone uses financial, emotional and physical resources and is technically a drain. But we find them worthy of what they use! Maybe those who are older use more, but you can't put a price on someones life.

Live and enjoy the time we have together no matter how long it lasts!

Spacers's picture
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My dad seems to have the same opinion. He's about 73 now and he's said he's already changed his health care directive to say no life-saving interventions, only palliative care. He's said he'd rather that his grandkids remember him as vibrant, not weak & sickly. It's kind of a strange POV, I think, since his mom lived to be 94, and she was strong & healthy up to the end despite being a lifelong smoker. She only died because of a medical mistake after she was in a car accident.

Another of my grandmothers was found to have a brain tumor at the age of 92. She opted for surgery, and refused to sign the DNR that the hospital said they always give elderly surgery patients. She said, "I may be old, but I'm not elderly, and if anything happens during the surgery, you do your damnedest to save me because I'm not done here yet." She lived to be 100.

Rivergallery's picture
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WHAT! my grandmother is 93 this year.. she still drives and travels.. donates her time to special causes.. exercises regularly and eats right.. She helps my kids with their college funds.. and is amazing!.

I think the biggest thing this person lacks seeing.. IS WHY.. why would they be seen as a drain.. Because they are stashed and hidden away.. their insight and wisdom is belittled... they do not have access to help others, or be involved in society..

WE miss a LOT when we do not interact with the elderly!

He needs to look at himself and advocate for the elderly instead of looking down on them.. try and fix the problem.