Skip to comments.Plan for long life, without pandemic (Should we let people older than 85 die in a pandemic?)
Posted on 05/06/2008 7:51:17 AM PDT by Sam's Army
Plan for long life, without pandemic NANCY STANCILL Should doctors let people older than 85 die in a flu pandemic?
A Monday news story saying a U.S. task force recommends denying lifesaving care in a pandemic or other disaster to some folks -- including healthy people above 85 -- was unsettling.
They're talking about my mother, soon to be 86. My friend Karen's father, who is 92. Another friend's grandmother, 102.
These people live life joyfully, with their minds and hearts intact. My mother relishes foreign travel. Karen's father loves bird watching. The 102-year-old grandmother plays a mean hand of bridge.
Financial planners, who routinely urge clients to base their planning on living to 95 or more, were aghast when I told them the news.
"I hope that none of my clients ever have people who want to make that decision for them," said Paul Boggs, a certified financial planner with R.P. Boggs and Co. in Lake Wylie, S.C. "That doesn't sit easy with me."
He said he has clients who are active in their 90s, including a few who still work daily at their companies.
Diane Davis, a certified financial planner in Charlotte, said she is amazed at such a recommendation, given that medical advances are increasing longevity all the time.
"A lot of us baby boomers would have an issue with that," she said.
It seems counterintuitive that the task force, influential physicians from universities, medical groups and government, would recommend letting people over 85 die in a flu pandemic.
The proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint "so that everybody will be thinking in the same way" in a disaster, Asha Devereaux, a critical care physician from San Diego and lead writer of the report, told the Associated Press.
Task force members said the idea is to allocate scarce resources, such as ventilators, medicine and doctors and nurses, in a uniform way. In addition to those over 85, the guidelines would cut out people with severe chronic disease and mental impairment.
Eighty-five doesn't seem so old anymore, especially when today's young folks have a heightened chance of living to 100.
The United States has about 54,000 centenarians, a number that has risen steadily over the last decade. One longevity expert predicts as many as 840,000 centenarians in 2050.
Cindy Anderson, a certified financial planner with Anderson Financial Planning in Charlotte, said she uses the age of 99 when mapping out strategies for folks in their 50s and 60s.
"My software won't go any higher," she said. "I have clients whose parents are dying in their 90s. I'd rather the clients die with money than without."
That got me thinking about money. If you have enough of it, it's an antidote to the loss of power people often experience in old age. And that got me thinking about saving.
So what's the trick to making money last into your 90s or beyond?
Don't withdraw more than 4 percent yearly from your savings after you retire, all three planners said.
"If you start hitting your principal early, that's a tough situation," said Boggs.
Buy good supplemental health insurance. Don't rely solely on Medicare as you age.
Get a financial checkup each year after you retire, so you can apply the brakes if you're spending too much of your nest egg.
If you can afford it, buy long-term care insurance in your 40s or 50s. You may never need it, but if you do, you'll have the resources to avoid poor-quality care.
Plan for inflation in some areas, such as utilities, taxes and food. But planners also note that some expenses, such as travel and entertainment, may decline in your 90s.
"As clients get older, they spend money in different ways," said Anderson. "They often stop spending a lot of money on shopping and the symphony."
Nancy Stancill's On the Money appears in the Observer Sundays and Tuesdays. Reach her at 704-358-5066 or at nstancill@charlotteObserver.com
ON THE MONEY
Disaster care report A task force charged with looking at health care in a flu pandemic or other disaster says lifesaving care may need to be rationed.
The task force's recommendations for who would not get treatment include:
People older than 85.
Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.
Severely burned patients older than 60.
Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.
Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.
Why not just euthanize people once they hit 85? It’s gotta be good for the environment to boot...
The government wants to keep them around so they can be used as food for the ZOMBIES.
I haven’t seen the original report, but it seems to be these were their recommendations in a “worst case scenario” where there was not enough vaccine and only a limited ability to treat people who contract the disease. It’s tough, but if a doctor has to choose between using the last of her resources to save a 15 year old and a 90 year old, who should she save?
Triage, a French word, go figure.
When you do not have the resources to treat everyone, you pick out the ones that will survive with no treatment and those who will likely not survive with treatment.
If you are still short on resources, then the choices get much tougher.
The families of the first victims will do best in court. The next 20 million cases will be dismissed.
Because government views citizens as resources, it only makes sense that those advocating for government-run health care would start to contemplate the usefulness of an old person.
They already do this when considering someone for a transplant.
They’re not talking euthanasia. They’re talking survival, and in a situation (a pandemic) when health services, supplies, etc. would be limited, and without those health services a person would die, who do you offer the health services to, the 85 year old who’s lived his life, or the 15 year old who has the potential to grow up be a mother/father, wage earner, tax payer, etc. It sounds harsh, but it’s not euthanasia, it’s just using the services available in the most0 “efficient” way.
And, for me personally, I can’t imagine any 85 year old who would choose to receive treatment, if it meant denying a 15 year old the treatment. The 85 year old has lived his life, give the 15 year old a chance.
Hopefully, we never see that short a supply of services or medicines...but if we do, and I’m getting up there in age (which I am, LOL) I can’t see sentencing a younger person (a teenager, a child, a mother or father who has kids to raise) to death just so I can live a few more years.
I bet no one in that task force is anywhere near 85yrs old.
Why wait so long?
I don’t know about that - it takes years for a civil case to move through the court system. By the time it gets to trial, the whole jury pool will know what the doctors had been faced with.
The problem with this type of thing is that once we accept this for a pandemic every couple of years the catastrophe bar is lowered until we're talking about involuntary euthanasia and other horrors. I don't blame folks who are skeptical.
Absolutely. That is far and away the best idea - unfortunately, the flu virus mutates, and they are constantly doing everything they can to keep up with it.
You know a different set of 85 year olds than I do. Most of the ones I know would shove the babies out of the line to get their shots.
Who is on this task force, what are their names, and where do they live?
For some reason I doubt we will find out.
86 year olds can pull a trigger.
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