Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Are Going To Die

Not a prediction of some god ending the world. We were born. We will die. That is not any different than any other animal species.

For those in their 70s and 80s and with Medicare, when faced with some serious health issues, why medically extend life by three to six months of suffering and feeling lousy. Give me quality of life -- not quantity. And that medical care doesn't come free. For those on Medicare or Medicaid, much of escalating medical care costs are subsidized by the taxpayer.

All those medical visits courtesy of Medicare appear to be free since there is no co-pay for an office visit or medical procedure no matter how expensive. Perhaps if the recipient wants the procedure, 1% of the cost becomes the co-pay. At least the recipient or the next of kin could decide whether they want to spend the money considering the poor outcomes of most medical procedures done for those in their 70s and 80s.

We are going to die. For those who are no longer able to take care of themselves and require (expensive) nursing home care, the first thing to be done is to discuss the inevitability of death. The nursing home should be palliative care. Make the patient comfortable. There should be no drugs to maintain life.

The only exception to this process is for those who have the wealth to take all those medications that their doctor may prescribe.

For those individuals who have become wards of the state, the job of the state is to keep that person alive. The taxpayer picks up the tab -- everything, That includes the monthly costs of nursing home care including all the drugs prescribed to keep the individual alive.

My dad managed to blow his personal wealth. In his early 80s, he was living in subsidized housing. In his late eighties, he could not live alone and required nursing home care.

Before entry to the nursing home, all medical prescriptions were ignored by the 87 year old man. He believed in healthy living -- not drugs. Once in the nursing home, he got all the prescriptions courtesy of the tax payer -- and the pill lady watched him take the pills. He asked for a daily vitamin C tablet. It was refused by the doctor as not needed. Instead what was needed was a handful of pills morning and evening. I happened to be at the nursing home for a visit one afternoon when the pills were delivered to Dad. Looked to be about eight in the cup. Not sure how many more were there in the morning dosage.

What were those pills for. Considering he had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimers, no doubt there was a pill(s) to address each of those diagnoses. Those were the conditions that I was aware of. There may have been others. No doubt, among those pills was a psychotropic drug to make him a docile resident.

We are going to die. Why all those pills to keep him alive. This man wanted to die. He didn't want to live his final days this way. Not thinking too clearly and no short term memory, he couldn't remember to refuse taking the pills. Besides he was a ward of the state and the state's requirement was to keep him alive. The pill lady made sure as she watched him swallow those pills.

This man wanted to die. He was in the nursing home over three years at taxpayer expense. It would have been a much happier experience for all if he had been allowed to live at the nursing home with palliative care to keep him comfortable until his death. Without those pills, no doubt he would have died in less than a year at the nursing home.

It is poor use of tax payer dollars for medical care for a person no longer working or contributing to the economy in some way. It would be a far better investment of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the education of a college student. That would be an investment in the future.

We are going to die. The decisions in your life are yours. But you are going to die.


  1. Amen.

    There are worse things than dying. I'm sorry your father suffered.

  2. I've done the living will, and talked to my son. I hope, when the time comes, I am able to make the decision for myself. My son grew up with family in nursing homes. I'm counting on him to remember that, if I can't for some reason, manage my end of life plan on my own.

    GAWD forbid, I ever become a ward of the state. I wouldn't want the government responsible for blowing my nose, never mind anything beyond that.

    Cyndi & Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

  3. I do not like the idea of the govermental bodies telling me to take drugs or how I have to live. It is my choice to go out like a skyrocket. Running wild until poof I am gone. No piddling around for me.

  4. Good essay, until that last line about subsidizing college educations. But that's the subject of a whole 'nuther essay.

  5. Good thought-provoking piece Lloyd. I hope I can make the decision to "go naturally" when the time comes.

  6. "Besides he was a ward of the state and the state's requirement was to keep him alive... It is poor use of tax payer dollars for medical care for a person no longer working or contributing to the economy in some way."

    I believe this will turn 180 degrees before too many more years have passed. Perhaps even in your and my lifetime.

    There was the time that I hoped I could live long enough to become a burden on Society just so I could break even. I now think that if I become a burden on Society, Society will kill me.


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