Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I watched with a lot of disdain for how my own father made really bad end of life decisions and vowed to not do the same as I move closer to the end my of life. For example, my father called me when he was 91 years old about his scheduled surgery to have both knees replaced. Mind you he was taking no pain meds for his knee issues. I asked him why he had opted for surgery over taking a few pills to control his knee pain. I was not ready for his answer: He was worried about the "long term" consequences of taking pills to control pain! I countered his objection to taking meds and asked what his view of "long term" meant in his mind. I won't go into the details of this discussion but it is a very good example of why we need some serious oversight of Medicare. (Note: My father died two weeks after he turned 92 from congestive heart failure.)
The Republican Congress wants to raise the age for Medicare eligibility and ditto for Social Security. I would offer the real opportunity lies on the back end and all of the bad decisions that may extend life but at what cost and quality of life. Medicare and his Part B coverage stood ready to pay the bills for my father for his knee surgery and never mind that he was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure and only had about 20% of he heart capacity.
At age 66, I am well into what I call the last quarter of my life. I want Social Security and Medicare to be there for younger people so they can retire and enjoy a few years of what life they have left to live. However, we have to get a system in place to address the fact we all get old and we all get to die at some point in time. The options offered to my father as well as others when they are near the end of their lives have to undergo some cost benefit analysis. Many health care options made by people today make no sense and cost Medicare billions of dollars.
There is no cure for old age and we owe it to our survivors to make a graceful exit. Good decisions about our health care and when to recognize our time is up will be necessary to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent for future generations. Life is short no matter how long we live.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 10:08 AM