Friday, October 26, 2018

When seniors get challenging medical diagnoses, sometimes less treatment means more productive time left



I’ve talked about resilience on some of my pages. 

There is an importance of people stepping up to challenges and take risks to protect others. That has extended in recent years with the growth of organ donations and the willingness of strangers to participate.  Gay men were kept out of this activity for years with the blood donation ban, but that is slowly being lifted.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his “Skin in the Game” book, even argues that taking risks for others is necessary. And that includes the determination to fight for your own life hard even if that demands of others after an incident.

What about the same idea for the elderly?  

It is true that even in old age people can stay alive much longer than in past generations with modern medicine.  Yet families are smaller with fewer children and much more could be demanded of adult children than in earlier times.

I approach an important annual physical soon, probably in early November.

In time, the probability of finding something challenging increases.  We will all die of something. If we fend off one thing, eventually there will be something else.  This is simply the law of entropy in physics. Cancer, especially, really results from entropy.

Sometimes, there can be situations where doing less may mean fewer years of life remaining but the remaining time may allow more productive activity and independence.  This is especially relevant for single elders or those without extended family backup. 

Being pro-life ought to recognize maintaining independence and activity as a goal.  That could sometimes mean not doing radical surgery or chemo, in some situations.

Oct. 27

Paul Marantz Cohen's comments on Shakespeare's King Lear, which most of us had to read in high school, seem relevant (Wall Street Journal, today). 

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