Although far more of us these days are living to a ripe old age, I think it is fair to say that for many that achievement often turns out to be something of a disappointment. It is bad enough finally retiring just as your body has begun to fail you, but far worse is what can await those who pass 80 and 90 years of age.
It might be tolerable if we could anticipate being well looked after once we lose our independence, but sadly this is not the case.
One of the statistics that came out of the collapse of Southern Cross was that they employed 44,000 staff to look after 31,000 care home residents. You don’t have to be a genius to see that a ratio of 1.3 staff to every patient is simply not sustainable, especially with our changing demographics. So it is impossible to maintain standards of care. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) This problem is not exclusive to Britain.
As a profession we have simply got too good at our job, managing to keep people alive long after what might be natural, and producing individuals who are little more than pharmacologically sustained heart lung preparations.
Very few of us want this. Without exception everyone I have asked has stated that they would rather die somewhat sooner than go on to a life of dementia and total dependance. Mostly we would rather die wearing our boots than a nappy. Sadly by the time we are at the state where we would rather be dead, we no longer possess the wherewithal to do anything about it.
So what is the solution? Euthanasia is unlikely ever to be considered acceptable, the idea of murdering the helpless and the elderly being too repugnant, even if it is what the victims would have wanted.
The only solution is the “live fast, die young” philosophy, though this is usually meant to imply dying before 30 and from my perspective dying young means at about 70. I think it is no surprise that more & more late middle aged people are taking up more risky lifestyles. They may fear death, but they fear senility far more.