David Oliver asks: How can we plan for old age if we won’t discuss it honestly? A desperate distancing from the uncomfortable fact of our own ageing and mortality feeds a failure to plan for future housing and care, potential loss of mental or physical capacity, or difficult decisions towards the end of life.
David Oliver is right, but like politicians of all persuasions, he evades the crucial issue of “The only way to avoid getting older is to stop living.”
We all extol the merits of living well with a worthwhile preservation of many if not all our faculties, independence and freedoms. But when they decline and survival brings serious impairments of our quality of life then the time has come to confront how we are to end life. Voluntary and assisted euthanasia require the utmost care and caution. Yet we do little to deal with dreadful pain, disabilities and failure of contact with family and friends, in a way we would deem cruel if applied to our dogs and other loved pets.
The age itself is a meaningless number. The decision whether continued existence is or is not worthwhile must always be an individual one, preferably made after candid but honest discussion with family and friends, if they are available.
But in the end, a civilised society should make due and carefully planned legal and medical provisions that enable a person with or without assistance to terminate their life.
Competing interests: No competing interests