As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
In his June 13 New York Times op-ed, Tyler Cowen wrote, “Medicare expenditures threaten to crush the federal budget.” The title of the article was “Something’s Got to Give in Medicare Spending.” Got it. Old people cost too much money to keep alive—and you younger disabled people on Medicare, you’re not helping either.
Trillions of dollars have been spent in the past eight years paying for a war of questionable legitimacy and monumental tax breaks for people who can afford to pay taxes, thus causing the national debt to skyrocket and putting the American economy on the skids.
So, what’s Mr. Cowen’s solution? Let’s limit health care benefits to old and disabled people. Boggles the mind.
One of the proposals coming out of the Obama administration is to limit end-of-life care. What exactly does that mean? I recently had a conversation with a leading thinker in aging services in the United States, Dr. Merle Griff. Dr. Griff is a successful businesswoman; she owns SarahCare, a thriving adult day care franchise. In addition, Dr. Griff is an experienced psychologist with years of experience working with the at-risk neonatal babies and at-risk old people. Dr. Griff’s take on the future of health care benefits includes the elimination of expensive neonatal care in the beginning of life and expensive end-of-life care for old people.
In 1974, then–Colorado Governor Dick Lamm, an outspoken advocate of physician-assisted suicide explained his support for the measure this way. He said, "We've got a duty to die and get out of the way with all of our machines and artificial hearts and everything else like that and let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life." At the time, Governor Lamm was roundly vilified as heartless and anti-aging. There are good reasons to support physician-assisted suicide, but I don’t think a requirement to “get out of the way” is one of them.
It seems clear that Mr. Cowen feels that old people have a duty to forgo health care at the end of their lives. It’s too expensive, and the American economy has other places to put that money—like Iraq and Afganistan for example. After all, as is often said, we Americans have an obligation to rebuild just societies there.
Boggles the mind.
By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog