July 7, 2009
How did we reach the point where we both sanction suicide among the old and yet go to extraordinary lengths to extend their lives? We got here by losing sight of what life is.
Roughly 60,000 Americans in their eighties now have open-heart surgery every year, according to a recent study, as reported in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. And, more than a thousand in their nineties do. Those surgeries cost Medicare $40,000 to $60,000 each. Medicare will be bankrupt in seven years. And, the number of people in their eighties and nineties is rapidly increasing.
Americans appear to believe death is okay if you’re dying of hopelessness and despair. Death isn’t okay if you’re dying from ordinary physical decline.