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Being sentient/functional at an old age and the fear of death within the individual (EDITED). Previously "How old is too old really?".


This question has been in my thoughts for quite some time now. I always wondered, at which point in a human being's life does he or she realizes that it's time to leave this plane of existence?

Say for example you reach 60, you're seasoned alright. Throughout your life, you performed very poor physical maintenance, you've been out of shape since forever and as a result you now suffer all types of diseases and physical illnesses. You're at a point where life, to you, consists of waking up and getting taken care of like a infant on daily basis. You're under many different types of medications, you can't perform any simple physical activity like walking and most of your needs must be tended to by someone else. Then suddenly, your condition gets worse and surgery is needed, or specialized help is needed in order to keep you alive.

Aside from your loved ones wanting to keep you alive, Isn't it selfish to put other people in tight financial situations just so you can almost mirror the life of a vegetable?

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    Apr 27 2013: Jean, There are cultures that respect and revere age and some that leave the old on the ice floe to die. Some have legislated death to babies through abortion and some like in the USA the politicians say it is their choice and devised death panels for citizens and yet exempt themselves from the process.

    At 70 I pay a lot into taxes, coach football, basketball, and track, am a mantracker for the local law ecforcement, write for the local paper, am on many boards, consult, and am a pain in the politicans butt. I take one pill a day ... looks a lot like Fred Flintstone.

    I worked in law enforcement for many years and can tell you taht age is not the issue here. There are people of all ages that the world would have been better off if their parents practiced birth control.

    Politician are taking this question away and will make that decision for you. So live it up Jean because before long your fate will be decided for you. Open your eyes to what is happening now because it will be your future.

    • Apr 28 2013: Hello Bob, thank you for your input on this. Let's not talk about killing babies though, this is not what this is about. In your case, you're a functional individual and have much to live for, so this doesn't apply to you obviously. I'd like you to see this from a general perspective and not a personal one. I'm sure you know someone the same age as you who's not even half the functional human being you are. This is about that person.

      Again ladies and gentlemen, this has nothing to do with the government and politics. This is about self awareness and consciousness. I guess I used the wrong words for this topic, since everyone seems to be on a different page then I am. This is more about being sentient then age I guess. Give the topic another read and let me know about your opinion on the subject, from an outside perspective. Exclude yourself from the scenarion and just see it from a human being perspective, not Robert Winner. Thank you.
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        Apr 28 2013: Jean, Abortion laws, death panels, political involvement in China that limits family size and in the USA that refuses treatment based on legislation are real world events that directly apply to your question.

        IF you had written should we allow life support on patients that are clinically dead or will never recover to a functional state then I would have answered differently.

        I have a living will, power of attorney, etc ... so as to not become a financial or mental burden on my family. However, as I said before that is no longer a option as I have been condemed to death by legislation. I find that VERY personal.

        Jean you do not provide any info on yourself ... country, age, etc ... As I am facing these issues you may not be and the event may be well into your future .. depending on where you live so we are looking through different filters.

        Sorry but government and politics have everything to do with your question ... even as you revise it.

        If everyone is on a different page than your are I suggest turning pages to catch up.

        I wish you well. Bob.
        • Apr 28 2013: Robert this isn't about life support, you didn't understand my initial post. Either by my very poor choice of words or the topic simply went over your head. I honestly see no purpose in you continuing to reply to this topic because we're on two totally different pages right now. We'll get a chance to exchange ideas on a different topic for sure. Peace, live long and prosper.
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        Apr 28 2013: Jean, It would appear from the comments and from your own admission that all of us are on a different page from you. Sorry I could not sort it out. Hope you connect with someone.

        Perhaps it did go over my head I am just a simple engineer working on a doctorate.

        I wish you well.
        • Apr 28 2013: Thank you Robert, I appreciate it.
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          Apr 28 2013: Oh, Robert! Doctorate in what field?
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          Apr 29 2013: ? Come on, Fritzie... It's nice tp have a PhD, but what happens if you have a bigger FYI?

          And, for the record, the feeling of safety and security is greatly compromised when you have to close your window because of a maniac with a bomb a couple of blocks away. True story.
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      Apr 29 2013: Robert,

      "There are cultures that respect and revere age and some that leave the old on the ice floe to die. Some have legislated death to babies through abortion and some like in the USA the politicians say it is their choice and devised death panels for citizens and yet exempt themselves from the process."

      That's true, but when those cultures come together, free of prejudice and interest in personal gain, they can actually make something new. The world is moving and changing fast nowadays, faster than ever. Every person that has an internet connection gets 320 times more information than was kept in The Library of Alexandria (from Introduction to "Big Data, A revolution that will transform how we live, work and think" by V Mayer-Schonberger, K. Cukier) and this will change both the world, your life, my life and any death panels that may have come about.

      "I worked in law enforcement for many years and can tell you taht age is not the issue here. There are people of all ages that the world would have been better off if their parents practiced birth control."

      I agree, it's not age, it's capacity, perseverance, courage and a number of other factors, a lot of them misunderstood. I have not worked in law enforcement as you have, but I was taught the basics of both safety and security, relevant at that time, by my father before I turned 10. He was a smart, hard-working man who travelled the whole world, he sniffed the social and political change coming to Poland and predicting there might be social unrest, he felt compelled to prepare us. There was unrest, there were fights between workers and special forces, there was trouble after that as well but thanks to his lessons I never got beaten up by anybody who happened to have other musical preferences or opinions, some of my friends did though. But opinions and preferences change and change fast in the information age... And the more information we get, the better but it's also important how we get it. To be continued.
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        Apr 29 2013: Anna, Thanks or sharing your story and the lessons from your father. As we have both experienced and seen, not all change is good for either the individual or the society as a whole. You are, of course, correct that rapid changes are occuring everywhere. With change also come fear and resentment. In the USA we are being "forced" to make changes during a really bad time in our history. Political change and fisical recession and depression are knocking on our door. The older generations have the ability to see where we have been and where this "new direction" is taking us.

        The question of how old is to old is being answered by politicians. I am currently healthy but in the event I become sick our new policy would be to deny me medical attention to prolong my life. So the question is without merit ... a political death panel has made that decision.

        There are many things I like about the "new age" and some I do not like. I think our education approach must change to better utilize our resources and use 21st century technology to better prepare our youth ... the focus on only core subject I believe to be an error as there is value in the arts that should be experienced also ...

        I would have loved to studied the document in the library at Alexandria .... This has been a pleasant detour from the conversation at hand. Thank you.

        I wish you well. Bob.
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          Apr 29 2013: Hi Bob,

          I understand fear and resentment well. I never discard any lesson until new experience, information or trend proves, without the slightest shadow of a doubt, that the lesson has no value or that the value is only sentimental. I also know what sentimental is and my view on "new age" is not that. "Cut your hair and get a job", they say. I say "Get a job I get, but why cut your hair?" You have different experiences than I have, I've been in media, sales, art, business, academia, tried different things and had different lessons. Some of them memorable, some of them to be filtered. What I'm trying to say here is that thanks to this new, glooming and glorious, information age, I'm from Texas, Indonesia and a number of other places at the same time thanks to a single click, accidental or not, while still scratching my head and being humble enough to say "Maybe I'm overreacting..."
          My father was a misunderstood, every-day hero, it took me over 25 years to understand him, while always trying to do the best I can for all the rest. And my reward was to hear that he died almost alone, in pain, in a dirty bed because the type of cancer he got was so unknown that there's no chance in hell to survive. He was tough enough to get it and survive 13 days longer than statistics diagnosed. Here come the statistics, the big data, and what is really interesting. He didn't reach your age, he had no chance, but he should have deserved one. Not to mention my mother, an every-day hero of a differeent kind.
          Call all this a rant, call it a speech, call it whatever you want. Frankly, my dear.... and so on.
          All you need is true love, ask me what true and what love is, if you dare. Ask me what I mean by you, age, statistics or cancer. What I mean by "whatever" or "perseverence".
          This is not against you, you get that, don't you.
          If that was too much and if that was too strong... Please listen to one of my favourite songs - Alice In Chains - "Rooster".
          Be well, Bob. I like you name :) Etc
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      Apr 29 2013: "I worked in law enforcement for many years and can tell you taht age is not the issue here. There are people of all ages that the world would have been better off if their parents practiced birth control."

      ...ok, but those people of all ages have been born, everyone knows what may happen if they get a job in Guantanamo Bay or law enforcement of any sort. My father's job was to have control over such people, up to 200 men at sea in foreign countries. I've heard many stories about it, of him standing for hours trying to make sure that a drunk captain doesn't fall into an open cargo hold, stories about how people go nuts at sea and what to do. He would probably think - "when on duty - behave, your suspects are not your subjects nor are the people in a foreign country. And if you don't t, it's probably not only the captain that got drunk... And if so - drunk with what?" But he would put it differently.

      He was not popular because he had a tendency to say the truth into people's face, and that's not completely irrelevant...

      "If everyone is on a different page than your are I suggest turning pages to catch up.

      I wish you well. Bob."

      Bob, in an information age you don't have to turn the page, you click yourself into the world that you didn't know anything about before. Not everything you find is good, but it may be interesting. Some people make content like music, some make parodies of this music. Some people make parodies of parodies. Some make parodies of news, other people, their age, background or whatever it may be. There are conflicts of interest between some of those people but some conflicts are just more conflicted than others and as we have more and more information about all of that, we can change the world for the better.
      SUM - I just think that ethical considerations should go hand in hand with security or safety of any sort and the smarter the world gets the more plausible this combination becomes.
      Best wishes to everyone involved in this discussion.
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    • Apr 28 2013: I guess you are right, everyone seems to be pointing the same thing, it really has nothing to do with age. I'm a very open minded people person Chris. There is purpose in helping others indeed; what good is man/woman's life if he is not willing to put his own goals aside to help another one in need. There is a lot of purpose in living, and I understand that too. But how can one claim to be "alive" if your day consists of waking up, being fed soup and sitting on a chair all day falling asleep and wake up just in time to eat? Do you get where I'm coming from?

      Is there purpose in being a vegetable and being more of a financial burden to one's children as we grow older?
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        • Apr 28 2013: Ok, now I see why this is all tangled up. I personally believe that the mind lives past death. A weak physical body has no use in the physical world in my opinion. The children will always want to pay and care for your well being, they're your children, and if you raised them right, they will care for you when you reach that point.

          The thing is, I want my children to go past whatever I may accomplish in my lifetime. Me being alive and costing them time, mental work, and money is selfish because I had my time. I want them to focus their time, money, and mental on their lives so that they too can achieve great heights in this existence, and even go past where I left.

          This life really isn't about the individual, we're all one. My children should aim to be far greater than I ever was during my lifetime. I would appreciate them caring for me, but ultimately I'd much rather them focusing their resources on themselves, so that they in turn excel in life. And that to me, is the ultimate selfless sacrifice that I hope to achieve at the closing of MY life, and the greatest gift that one can ever pass on to their children.

          Off course, all that assuming that my possible wife isn't still with me or we share mutual belifs, then it's a totally different approach.
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    Apr 28 2013: 4 a.m. Then they came for me, I hid in the toilet stall They broke down the toilet door It fell in on an innocent boy Ach the wooden door fell in on an innocent kid! I stood on the bowl & listened, I hid my shadow, they shackled the other and dragged him away in my place-How long can I get away with this? Pretty soon they'll discover I'm not there They'll come for me again, where can I hide my body? Am I myself or some one else or nobody at all? Then what's this heavy flesh this weak heart leaky kidney? Who's been doing time for 65 years in this corpse? Who else went into ecstasy besides me? Now it's all over soon, what good was all that come? Will it come true? Will it really come true?
    After Lalon, Allen Ginsburg, March 31, 1992
    • Apr 28 2013: Hey, I'm very happy that you can take your time and post a few lines from a document instead of expressing YOUR opinion. Good job.
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        Apr 28 2013: Believe me that's my opinion. It's just that someone said that succinctly 21 years ago. Cheers!!
        • Apr 28 2013: The last nine sentences of that text were questions. I'm not afraid to say that it sort of went over my head. Could you give a more concrete answer, and maybe an explanation to why you would make such a choice?

          Not sure what is supposed to come true, but all I'm getting is that your thoughts on this are that you wouldn't favor a life that's just a fragment of what you used to be and you would welcome death. If I'm wrong correct me. Thanks.
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        Apr 28 2013: It says "Being sentient at old age...." Isn't sentience the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity?

        I am 51 years old. I won't say " I ache in the places where I used to play". No not yet. But one day I will. But I don't think I will be a fragment of what I used to be, ever. Health will go, surely as youth left me already. But I think till the last minute I shall be asking if I lived it to the best of my ability and if that life will come true.

        I think I am more than my body. I may ask my family not to drag my living corpse on just because technology can and my family can possibly afford. But to say that I shall welcome death will be a lie.

        Are you looking for a justification to die Jean?
        • Apr 28 2013: I said sentient, then I put the slash and wrote (functional at an old age). Isn't my grammar on point?

          There is no purpose to a man's life if he's not willing to die at any time, or put his life on the line for another living creature. Mankind' biggest fear is death, why you may ask? We fear the unknown, and death happens to be the last step in this plane of existence. It comes to those who fear it, and fear is the root of all evil. I plan on achieving great things in my life, whether I accomplish them or not, I know that I'm going to die someday. I'm conscious enough to realize that it's just the way things are and I have to die for sure, there is no escape. So why not remove the fear of death from my mind and replace it with something more productive that will benefit my well being while I'm alive?
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    Apr 27 2013: Jean,
    Being in a compromised state physically or emotionally is not always connected to age......I've been there.....done that.....even though I have been generally healthy and taken good care of the body and mind throughout the life adventure. I have been kept alive on life support systems, so, your question about age, does not seem consistant with the rest of your my perception.

    I remember when I was a teen, thinking that age 30 was too old....over the hill! When I reached 30, I thought that 40-50 were REALLY old. The truth is, that in my 40s I was in the best emotional and physical condition I had EVER been.
    To make a long story short, I'm ready to go, or ready to stay! I no longer perceive any age as "too old", and 70 is looking pretty good and YOUNG right now...LOL:>)
    • Apr 28 2013: Just by looking at your photo Colleen I can tell that you want to live and that you filled with energy. This doesn't apply to you. I guess somewhere in my introduction I might have used the wrong words to formulate my question. I gave a very specific life scenario that most American elderly people are going through right now as we speak. America is not the number one country when it comes to the health of its citizens, particularly the elderly, and that's a well known fact.

      Give it another read, and spill your thoughts on the subject, thanks.
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        Apr 28 2013: One read should be enough. Perhaps you should give it another write and say precisely what you intend.
        • Apr 28 2013: Edward, just read the third paragraph and put yourself in that person's shoes. What would you do? that is literally all I'm asking. If you can't do that or my choice of words was that poor than by all means stop replying, and let's just let this topic on its own, or until I can a reply from someone who can understand what I'm trying to say.

          I'm not insulting you in any way by the way. I don't really see any other way to word my topic; these are the most likely the best words I can use to describe what was on my mind. Maybe you are right, and my text makes no sense. The only way for us to know for sure is to let the topic grow, and let more people post.
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        Apr 28 2013: Very perceptive Jean....yes....if I am in this earth school, I am going to live life to the fullest....with gusto:>)

        I do not agree that "most american elderly people are going through" the scenario you describe. Perhaps I'm hanging out with a different crowd than you are aware of?

        While we Americans DO indeed have a weight/diet issue, and some folks are overmedicated (in my perception), many of us make good decisions regarding our health. My buddies and I are considered "older", and we all garden, bike, ski, kayak, hike, etc. etc. etc. Many of us have physical challenges, which are mostly caused because we have lived very active lives.

        I agree with you that the scenario you present does not apply to me, and I don't think it applies to as many people as you assume. I gave your introduction another read, and I'm not sure what you are trying to address. Your profile does not indicate where you are from. I'm wondering if you are comparing americans to another specific group or culture?
        • Apr 28 2013: "I agree with you that the scenario you present does not apply to me, and I don't think it applies to as many people as you assume". Maybe you're not aware of what goes on really. I'm not making any comparisons at all, I happen to live in America.

          The scenario doesn't apply to you and that's great. Like I said to everybody else, if you're still kicking life hard, then live, live, and live. Colleen, I'm asking you to actually put yourself in that scenario. Say you weren't as healthy as you are and your days consisted of sitting at home, taking meds, eating your soup, and an oxygen tube is up your nose. Is that a life you would accept for yourself, looking back at all the great things that possibly happened in your life. To be reduced to such a small scale of existence on this planet, costing money to your children, and having them constantly worry about if you're going to wake up tomorrow. Isn't that selfish? What would you do?
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        Apr 28 2013: Jean,
        I think/feel that I am pretty aware, because throughout the life experience, I have been very active with several different, large populations, including volunteering in a terminal care facility, where most people are in the state you describe.

        I DO live Jean.....thanks for the encouragement and advice:>)

        As a matter of fact, I'm going to visit my brother this afternoon who is 85, on oxygen all the time because of COPD (lung disease) and is very limited regarding mobility. I spent a LOT of time caring for another brother who died in January from cancer. He also was limited, and in a similar state that you describe.

        One of the great things that happened to me, was a near fatal head/brain injury years ago, and at that time, I was in the condition you describe. I did not have the feeling then that I was in a "small scale of existence", nor do I see my brothers and others in that condition as being "a small scale of existence".

        It really feels like you are being judgemental regarding the decisions other people make about their reason for living or dieing? Would you like to simply "put down" all those who do not meet your criteria for life? "How old is too old really".......FOR WHAT? Be clear!
        • Apr 28 2013: I actually edited the topic, and mentioned to disregard the age factor. The age factor (60 to be specific) is only there as a cap, because a 30 year old with lung failure is not the same as a 60 year old with lung failure. At 30, there is still a lot one can accomplish with their lives. As we grow older our capacities for greatness become more and more limited.

          Because of the seriousness of the nature of your past injury, I'm not going to ask you to be more specific about it because I understand that it might a memory that you do not wish to revisit, let alone share with a 21 year old arrogant young man haha.

          I'm not imposing my ideas on anyone though, where do you get this from? I hope I don't cross a line here Colleen really, but I'm sure that your brother is not having the time of his life with the respiratory issues and his limited ability to move. Maybe I am being judgmental without really seeing it.

          My opinion (keep in mind that this is my opinion and I'm not forcing it on anyone nor really judging anyone who believes in a different idea) on this is that, I do not want to be breathing with the help of a machine, I'd let nature take its course and sync with the universe. My lungs would collapse because of physical failure and I understand that. I'm not a machine and there's no point to go against nature. I like breathing with my lungs. I'd become more of burden/worry to my family more than a source of joy and life. To pass away by your own will without fear of death is far more encouraging to the younger generation and less costly mentally/financially.

          My view on life and death seems to be extreme from your perspective probably, but I'd align myself with the natural course of things any day over life support. It probably is partly due to my personal beliefs and my spirituality.

          I feel great just by looking at your photo Collen, a lot of energy and life. I can tell you have a lot of Charisma an people like you a lot. Continue being great!
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        Apr 28 2013: Jean,
        I noticed that you edited the topic, and I also read your post in which you state that your age is 21.....that explains a LOT my friend. At 21, I might have felt the same way you do....probably would NOT have wanted to be kept alive with life support systems. Thankfully, with age and life experiences, we sometimes assimilate more information!

        At age 42, I was a competitive athlete, performer (actor, singer, dancer in musical theater), honored by an international organization as a "woman of the 90s", in the best physical and emotional shape EVER...bla...bla.....bla.

        One day I went horseback riding, and regained consciousness 2 week later after an emergency craniotomy, actually dying, and kept alive with life support systems. I was not supposed to live. When I did live, the prognosis was that I would never function "normally" again. There was a quesion about unplugging me from life support, and my family decided not to, so here I am, living a full and very active life. I do not mind revisiting, it because it is a GREAT lesson, which I choose to remember:>)

        Jean, you are NOT sure about anything regarding my brother, and yes, that is arrogant to believe you are. He is choosing to live, rather than die right now, I respect his choice, and will do all I can to help facilitate his choice. He is not afraid of death....we talk about it a lot. He simply chooses to live right now.

        I respect the choice you make for yourself at this time as well, and I suggest that you may change your mind at some point in the future. Your view is not at all "extreme", and I respect your view. You are saying on this thread that nobody understands what you are talking about....nobody understands the topic. I suggest that most of us understand, and may have a different perspective.

        You might even want to rethink your statement....
        "As we grow older our capacities for greatness become more and more limited."

        Maybe....just maybe....the possibility for greatness becomes more great:>)
        • Apr 28 2013: See Collen, now we're talking. Even though this is revolving about your personal life and your brother, I'm able to get what I wanted, a different perspective. Everybody else want to talk about the government and the law, when I'm only asking for personal perspectives.

          Thank you for your time!
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        Apr 28 2013: Jean, I'm curious.....

        Why do you want to set your present worldview/mindset in stone at the young age of 21?
        • Apr 28 2013: I don't Colleen. Because If that was the case, I wouldn't have came to Ted to discuss something I have no intention of changing my mind on. I hope everyone else got something out of this topic, because I came here to acquire knowledge, not to throw ideas around for the sake of it.
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        Apr 28 2013: RE: "Edward, just read the third paragraph. . . " You now have an edited post offered for debate which really asks no question. What EXACTLY is it you are seeking arguments in support of, or in opposition to? Are you proposing that hopelessly non-productive and apparently non-aware people should be killed?
        • Apr 28 2013: Edward my whole post is just nonsense as you mentioned above, let's just leave it at that.
  • Apr 29 2013: We have a saying in Punjab, Pakistan, that as long as the heart is young (in the emotional and spiritual sense), a person even at 90 is not old, even though few signs of aging maybe visible. I now people who are 80 plus and are more active in their daily lives than I ever was. :-)
    But surely if being born was not in my hands so why should dying be in my hands. Life and death is about balance.
    Every peak has to reach a low point. That is the law of nature. I see the sine curve and i see the human life. Your question should be that why do we get sick in the prime of ours lives and have to die?
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    Apr 29 2013: Dear Jean,
    I read your post and the conversation carefully. It appears that you asked a question (open ended) and then preferred to edit it to change the question, which you insist, has no connection with your original question. You didn't help the commenters by sharing specific information about your age, country of residence, social/family situations so I have reasons to believe you wished to keep your question academic and non-personal. In course of discussion, you informed you live in America and you are 21 years old. Apparently you have no physical condition that may make your life as unbearable.
    I see many commenters trying to place their perspective, describe and relive their pains and suffering just to help you. And I also see that you are discarding many replies just because that is not something you are looking for. It appears to me you have the answer to your own question - all you are doing is seeking confirmation to it.
    If I have understood this platform and most people here, it doesn't work here that way.
    • Apr 30 2013: This question was meant to be purely abstract, not really applied to a real world situation, which is why I layed a hypothetical scenario. I'm getting answers, but not to the question I formulated. I think I have to post it on physics or a psychology forum to get the answers I'm looking for, because those two subjects are were my question originated from really. I'm closing this one.
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    Apr 29 2013: I think as they grow older It depends on how the individual sees themselves in regard to the world.

    If they think it's there for them to enjoy then they tend to fight to the end at all costs.

    If they think it's there for them to help or contribute to then they're usually ready to go as nature sees fit. No special efforts required to stay alive. They may have regrets about not doing enough but accept that they did what they could.
    • Apr 30 2013: That's true, it depends on the person. But what is YOUR perspective?
      • Apr 30 2013: I believe that a person needs to contribute whatever happiness and understanding they can to the world and those around them for as long as they can. That's what I think life is for. If they can still contribute constructively for that purpose from a wheelchair or a bed then fine - keep at er. But do it for others, not for yourself. And if the grim reaper shows up one day then so be it. Make it quick. There is no point in staving off the inevitable while sucking the life out of everybody around you. I don't want people lingering in the pain or sadness of my passing. I want them to rise above it, be happy and celebrate that our lives crossed and take away whatever lessons or pleasures they can to carry the torch for the next generation.

        If it gets to the point where I'm just prolonging the inevitable for no gain to anybody then give me the plug. I'll end it myself. There's not much to fear really. If there's another realm to exist in then great lets go. There's nothing more I can do here for anybody. If there isn't - It won't really matter then will it so what is there to fear?

        On a side note - how come everybody sees a white light when they get close to the end but come back. How come nobody ever sees a red glow or comments on the heat or the smell. Surely some of those folks had some reckoning coming? Just curious. No response required
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    Apr 29 2013: I see you're having a hard time getting a clear answer to what you asked. You're probably wondering why that is. My take on this must start with my own answer to your question:

    "I don't know." There's a clear answer. And I think it also suggests the reason why you're not getting clear answers.

    I'm not in the situation of your infirm 60-year old. (I'm only 72 and in great health, as long as we're sharing ages.) And because I'm not in his situation I can't know what I would do if I were in that situation. When I was 21, I would have known what do do if I were a 60-year old near-vegetable. But not anymore. When you have lived a goodly number of decades and are at all reflective, you recognize the impossibility of determining well ahead of time what your sense of your present, past, and future will be at a later age. You only know that it will have changed.

    I appreciate your recognition below (if you weren't being ironic) that experience with life does bring some understanding with the years. Many 20-somethings seem to lack that recognition, though they all think they're smarter than they were five years ago.

    Hope the discussion has given you something to chew on.
    Paul L.
    • Apr 30 2013: I know you're not in the situation of my infirm 60 year old... But say you were is what I'm asking. What would the individual inside YOU do? Would he make a conscious decision or?
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    Apr 29 2013: Suggest every situation, case by case.

    If you have your facalties, and wish to end your suffering, that should be your choice. One consideration in these situations is whether you have dependents, especially if it is emotional suffering.

    My rule of thumb is not to kill myself on the spur of the moment. Wait for a day.

    In cases where people have lost their ability to think or communicate, it is much harder.

    Suggest we should discuss what our preference is in these situations with our families before they happen.

    I think there is some living wills too that outline your wishes if in a coma etc.

    Sometimes life presents no easy options.
    • Apr 30 2013: I don't need to suggest every situation case by case because I'm only looking for perspectives on only one situation. It's not that you'd want to die because you're heavily ill, it's that you're accepting death so that other people in your family can continue their lives in peace. Life continues after you die. You save them energy that they can apply to something else in their lives, money that they can invest in something else that matters to them, and spending time doing something that matters to them. The ultimate selfless act of existence, to accept death so that others can enjoy life. That's what made Jesus Christ the only one to ever truly been able to become one and communicate freely with the creator, it's because he was willing to die for the ultimate good of others. It's that sacrifice.

      When does consciousness grasps the true concept of selflessness?
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    • Apr 28 2013: I appreciate your input on this Don. If you haven't done so, I would suggest you take a little time and read some of my replies below to get a better picture of what I'm trying to discuss here. Your photo shows that you maintain a great posture so I'm going to go ahead assume that you too are still kicking life really hard, and to that, I say live on brother.

      I'm not too sure where the medical department falls into the scenario and question that I asked. All I'm asking is to put yourself in the shoes of the person in my third paragraph and give me an opinion. There isn't much data to be analyzed or processed. This is not a proposal for the elderly to be put down, this is merely an attempt at having a very hypothetical exchange of ideas, and not world facts. I'm 21, to answer your question.

      Here's my answer to my question: If I can no longer do the things I loved to do during my life, and my children are grown, focused and on track with their lives. There is no need for me to stay alive. We strive for survival, not personal survival, but the survival of our race. Whether I accomplish my dreams or not, I don't want to turn into a fragment of who I really am. I would let my family know that I was satisfied and grateful of my life and that I'm proud to have fathered my children, and watch them grow to become whatever they become and that whatever serious medical condition that may arise, there is no need for them to invest their mind/money/time into it, because I want to pass away, at peace with myself and the world. I'd request they respect my decision, for it is my life. The fear of death cannot be in my mind. I have accomplished the prime goal of every human which is to make sure that our race lives on and prospers. I don't know what it's like to be seasoned yet, obviously, but I feel that it can't be as lively as it is for me now at 21.

      What would you do in the shoes of the person of my third paragraph? would you be selfish and have your family worry so much?
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        • Apr 28 2013: Don, I read the text on your page, and I can also agree that Herb Foxwell is a swell gentlemen. Long live Herb Foxwell, and may he prosper in life. To be completely honest, again, what I just read from you has nothing to do with what I'm asking.

          It seems as though an unstoppable force has met an immovable object. I can't wait to get into a topic where we're both on the same page, and have a healthy exchange of ideas. I'm really having a hard time understanding how most of what you're typing applies to my topic, but like you said it's probably because you're older and much smarter than me. Your reasoning is going way above my head because I'm failing to decipher what your opinion is on being hypothetically incapacitated in the scenario written above. This topic doesn't seem to be working for both of us, as you're failing to provide me with a simple concrete opinion, and I'm failing to understand why I can't get the type of answers I'm aiming for.

          Peace, keep living and prosper.
  • Apr 27 2013: My answer to this question is quite straightforward. I don't believe that a man's life is sacred, but also I don't believe that the government has any power to determine the life of a citizen regardless of how meaningful or meaningless his life will be. If the family members of the "old" (actually the term old is different for different people, also some one could fall into a coma/vegetable-state in their 20s) are willing to suffer the financial consequences, then the government should not interfere with their wishes.
    I, personally, have already put in my living will, that the attending physician, with the consent of my family/guardian, can disconnect the respirator which could only keep my breathing but with no hope of restoring my consciousness. However, I will not vote for any government interference whatsoever on this decision. This policy seems to be derived from the religious doctrine, therefore, according to our Constitution, the government should be kept out of the private decision-making.
    Even though we are in such a heavily loaded welfare state, it is still quite impossible to cover all the family financial hardship such as the bread-winner in the family couldn't find a job, not because he is incapable to work, but he also spends much of the welfare money for his dope habit or drinking, over the needs of his family.
    For the same reason, I don't believe that the government should interfere with suicide either.
    • Apr 28 2013: The government has nothing to do with topic at all. Please point me to where the government was mentioned in my initial post and I'll gladly remove it. I didn't go as far as a coma, because people can come back from that state and still be functional. This is about the seasoned men and women who can't properly function, and are costing a lot of money to their families because of their fear of death.
      • Apr 28 2013: I answered your question about the meaning of "useful life" according to MY VALUE SYSTEM ON MY LIFE in my posting. I raised the question of the government interference on the decision to terminate or even refuse to pay for health insurance on some treatment which really could prolong a patient's life, but needs very expensive or extremely labor-intensive care. So what I meant was; should we leave the decision to the family members who are most likely to spend majority of their money and time on the patient, instead of extending the political or legal arms of the government TO STOP THE TREATMENT OR THE PROCEDURE OF PROLONGING A LIFE FOR WHATEVER THE REASON SUCH AS YOUR SUGGESTION OR IN THE NAME OF EFFICIENCY FOR THE .GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. Currently, at least in the U. S., the government is trying to take care of the health insurance of every citizen in the country, so this question is quite relevant here.
        Let me say again that personally I am a nonbeliever in the notion that human life is sacred. As a matter of fact, with limited resources on earth, I think that if we spend effort and resources on a seriously incapacitated old guy, it might cost another life in other part of the world. So personally I agree with your view. However, I don't like that this kind of decision would be made by some third party; i.e. the government bureaucracy, instead of the family members.
        • Apr 28 2013: Finally I get an answer!

          Not because you agreed, but because you you gave me an opinion on the hypothetical situation. Your point of view is that you wouldn't go for the life support and heavy medical assistance, because you're aware that you're costing your family time, money, and mental baggage. At the same time, you'd allow your family to influence your decision and even make a choice for YOUR life.

          I see, thanks for your perspective, and thank you for understanding. Is my post really as complicated as everyone else claims it to be then?
      • Apr 28 2013: Let me tell you several legal cases which happened in the past in the U. S.:
        In the 1980s, there was a physician named Kevorkian(?) who openly carried out several "assisted suicide" to patients who asked for assistance to terminate their "meaningless life" due to advanced stage cancer. Eventually the physician was convicted for man-slaughter and put in jail. Now there are no such physicians being permitted to do any assisted suicide in the U. S. So if a patient like in your case wanted to terminate his life, he has to do it sneakily behind the back of his family. Also, after 1992, there are several cases of mercy killing by the spouses of the suffering of their seriously sick spouses, and at least two of them were convicted and sentenced to jail.
        Another case happened in around 1987, a woman of 21 years old named Quinlan was hit by a car and went into coma, and never regain conscious for at least 15 months. The immediate family guardian and the hospital ethics committee agreed to disconnect respirator because of the prognosis for regain of consciousness being hopeless. However some other party besides the family sued. The family had to go through 4 years of litigation, and finally got the court approval to the legally permitted disconnection after much suffering by the family. May I call your attention that all 3 situations are against the opinion of you and me. But the important point here is that things are not as simple as you may realize.
      • Apr 29 2013: Let me add another point to you answer in this round.
        The current law about the legal consent to terminate a "life" whatever the condition is, must depend on the consent of ALL THREE PARTIES; the medical staff more than the attending physician alone, the patient himself, and his guardian family member. LACK OF ANY ONE OF THE THREE, the hospital would not authorize the "termination" If the patient is unconscious and didn't have a prearranged consent, then certain other parties or the government could step in and challenge the decision to terminate.
        So, in my case, I can only prevent such "interference" from anybody, when my guardian agrees to my termination. And if they object to my intent, then the HOSPITAL IS NOT ALLOWED TO CARRY OUT THE TERMINATION PROCEDURE EVEN IF I HAD A CONSENT EITHER PREARRANGED OR RIGHT ON THE SPOT. So your comment at the end of your first paragraph in the second response is simply not applicable.
        Your post was not too complicated, rather it's not applicable to many other countries than that of yours. Or are you sure that in your country, you can dictate what the medical staff will do whatever you desire and from nobody else?
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        May 1 2013: Hello again Jean:>)'
        You say in your previous comment..."Finally I get an answer!"

        It appears that it may indeed be agreement you are seeking. What is the point in starting a "debate", if you only accept a certain perspective?

        You also ask..."Is my post really as complicated as everyone else claims it to be then?"

        Your intent, with your post seems a bit confused and confusing. You ask, in several comments for personal perceptions/perspectives, and you also say you want an opinion on the hypothetical situation.

        For some of us, the scenario you present is not is real. Some of us have either personally been in the condition you present, and/or, we see friends and family in that condition often. If you want a genuine conversation, I suggest encouraging all perspectives.

        Your statement..."Finally I get an answer", suggests that you are indeed seeking a certain perspective.
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    Apr 27 2013: That is crazy talk. It violates the prime directive of life.
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      Apr 28 2013: For the record Pat, what is the prime directive of life?
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        Apr 28 2013: to survive
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          Apr 28 2013: Thanks. I forgot about the two instincts with which every human is born. . to suckle and self-preservation.
    • Apr 28 2013: How is this crazy talk? I gave a very specific scenario and asked for feedback. I understand your need to express an opinion, but if you're going to do so Pat, please say something more concrete.

      If you're a healthy human being who still functions well past 60, then go ahead and live on brother. No one is telling you to die. This topic is about the men and women who never took care of their bodies when they were young and as a result they contracted all sorts of illnesses and are prescribed tons of medication, need medical care constantly. This is about those with very restricted diets, those who can no longer walk on their own due to obesity and diabetes and other illnesses.
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        Apr 28 2013: Sanity = survival

        suicide (especially at the age of 60) = crazy
        • Apr 28 2013: This isn't about suicide. Suicide is for those who are lost and have no hope or no vision for life. This is about knowing when you're time is up in your own mind. It's not about killing yourself, it's about embracing death.

          I layed down a hypothetical scenario in the third paragraph. What would you do, is all I'm asking? This is merely a hypothetical debate, not to be taken seriously. I'm not imposing my ideas on you, I'm actually asking you to share a piece of your mind with me. If you don't want to do that then I understand. Death is a touchy subject and most people are afraid to die. You don't have to reply if you can't find an answer to my question, it's not a crime.
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        • Apr 28 2013: Don, somewhere down the line during our conversation I must have typed something the wrong way. This isn't about your actual life. This is all hypothetical. I appreciate the fact that you're willing to share such personal information about your life with me and the others, but that is honestly not what I'm aiming for.

          I'm only asking for different perspectives without having to impose our ideas on each other. I you feel like I'm imposing something on you, know that that's not my intention at all. In fact it's great that you're seasoned and replying to me because I get to learn more. You have spent more time on this earth than I did, so there are experiences that I haven't yet reached in my life. Age does not define intelligence just so you know, and I don't think I'm smarted than you. Making such a bold assumption would be stupid and closed minded because I don't know you. I"m only the question to get different views on life in general. I honestly do not want to hear anyone's life story, this is hypothetical.

          This a PURELY hypothetical topic about life, it's not about YOU specifically, rather your perspective as a human being. I don't want to hear Don Wesley, I want to hear the human being inside you. Don Wesley already has a life of his own, therefore this cannot apply to Don.

          This is purely abstract thinking.
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    Apr 27 2013: I guess you are well under 60.
    I am 62 & fit, & , as a Christian, very happy to leave anytime God decides. This, however, is not a decision I would leave to politicians who already sanction the death of millions of babies per year.

    • Apr 28 2013: Peter I'm happy to hear that you're still kicking life really hard at that age. If you maintain your body and your mind, then live long and prosper, this doesn't apply to you. Let's not bring politics into this, this is about self consciousness and awareness of one's existence. The government has nothing to do with this topic, so let's please stay on track.
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        Apr 28 2013: So who makes the decision, & who says it's legal ?
        • Apr 28 2013: YOU make the decision. This is about making life choices for yourself. Not you specifically "Pat Law", but a human being in general. Who else is supposed to make a decision about YOUR life other than yourself?

          Do you let others tell you how to live your life? If so Mr. Law then this topic is not for you and you should let them respond for YOU. This topic is about the human being within, the mind behind the wheel of your existence. This has nothing to do with the laws of men. This is about making a life decision for yourself. No man has power over your own will.

          This is my perspective: I'm young, physically active and my mind is sharp. If I ever get to the point where I have to rely on others to make my life decisions for me, then I have no purpose in living. I hope to have a fulfilling life so that when I get older I have no regrets because I lived; there cannot be any fear of death in my mind whether I accomplished my life goals or not. I had my chance and I have to move on. If I can no longer do the things I enjoyed doing all my life on my own and my children are mentally strong and can carry themselves through their own lives, then my purpose on this earth is over. There is no need for me to linger because my time has passed and I have to accept it. I might be the part of the few who think like this, but I don't think it's fair for me to reach a point where I'm a financial/mental burden to my kids, because though they are born yet, I want the best for them. I want them to be able to focus all their thoughts on their lives and not have to worry about me and how I'm doing. My life is my life, and theirs is theirs. I want my children to have the least worries as possible in order for them to live their lives as they see fit and be the best that they can be without me holding them back. I want my children to achieve their full potential, whether I'm alive to see it or not.
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        Apr 29 2013: Jean my friend; you need to learn a lot about living before you start worrying about dying. The best months of my life were spent in traction, not knowing whether I would walk again, & frankly, not much bothered. I developed close relationships with my carers & loved the freedom from responsibility.
        Your outlook is very materialist. Check out this guy, Nick Vujicic; he's got no arms or legs. Doesn't bother him......

        Or a Gal called Joni Erikson; quadriplegic from teenage, & loving it. I can't imagine circumstances like you describe, & if they exist then it would be long after I was capable of personally doing anything about it. My children would never countenance any such action, especially of financial or 'nuisance' grounds. This life is very short, & is just a preparation for the next. We have neither to get too attached to it, nor dispense with it.

        • Apr 30 2013: I'm not sure how my outlook is materialist, but okay. As for my concern with death, it is part of existing, therefore I have to think about it. it's like avoiding unpaid bills, whether you like it or not, bills exist and you have to think about them and pay them. Your children, from their perspectives, and their lives will want you to be around so they will want to keep you alive. They will never object to pay the bills, but we both know that they could do without them. Realize that if they didn't have those bills they could have invested their money and existence into something greater that would benefit their lives. Remove the self from the equation at all times, and you'll see the perspective I need an opinion on.

          What would you do?
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        Apr 30 2013: I am intrigued that you can think of a better investment than attending to the needs of a sick dad. I would give my life for my children, but I would not give my life to enhance their finances. None of us could give a hoot what is in our bank, it is irrelevant. Loving & caring for people is what matters
        We live in a screwed-up materialist world; and you are right, ultimately people die because it costs too much to keep them alive. It happens all the time. That doesn't make it right.

  • Apr 27 2013: Has anyone who was still sentient felt they were too old?
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      Apr 29 2013: Well, yes, not because of age but because of fatigue with the progression of illness.
  • Apr 30 2013: okay that makes sense to me Fritzie
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    • Apr 30 2013: You wanting to die in that situation is the equivalent to you giving up on life because it is too painful and you can't take it, that's defined as suicide. This isn't about suicide.
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    • Apr 28 2013: How is it suicide if you do not want medical help for a condition that is deteriorating your health? Judge has nothing to do with that. If I don't want life support/surgery, I'm not getting life support/surgery.

      At this point ladies and gentlemen, honestly I'm thinking strongly about closing this topic, since people can't seem to put themselves in hypothetical situations and give a personal opinion without the involvement of the law and the government.

      Here's an aexample of an answer I might expect to hear from someone who can understand what I'm trying to say: " Personally, if my physical condition deteriorated to that point, I'd keep living because I could probably still accomplish more things. I'd push my existence on this planet as far as I can. I don't see the problem with my family paying for my health, because that's what families do, they support each other"

      Literally simple as that.
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        • Apr 28 2013: I can understand that woman though, I wouldn't want to die in Canada either. (joke)

          Don, I just happen to be a full blooded Aries. My will is strong in my threshold for anger and rage is lower than others. I'm a very peaceful man despite that. I learned at a very young age to control my rage because I have seen what i can do when I'm angry. I practice a life of peace and harmony with other people, most of the time overlooking and forgiving those who would do me wrong.

          My mental is very strong, and it was not anger that was rising, rather patience that was leaving. I would do tenfold to anyone who would come to injure me, that I can assure you. I'm healthy and suffer no injury.
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        • Apr 30 2013: I wasn't referring to revenge, I was referring to the actual moment. I avoid conflicts because of my nature. I know what I can do if I'm put in volatile situations so I avoid those situations. I have enough will power to control certain aspects of my natural personality, so no, this Aries does not practice violence, but is aware of his capabilities. Notice how I said I "would", but I don't.

          "Only a woman can defeat me; I won't hurt them", very wise choice of words.
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    Apr 28 2013: Your phrase, "realize that it's time to leave this plane of existence", is key to the debate. Many folks, like Ms. Steen below, have been in circumstances where continuation of life was in jeopardy. Their situation changed and they went on to live and enjoy life. Can I paraphrase your point by saying, "While in a diminished state should a person become a candidate for government mandated execution?" Is that what you are saying?
    • Apr 28 2013: Edward, thanks for your input but what? This question is about your perspective if you were in the shoes of the man/woman in the scenario that I described in my initial post. I don't really know what the government has to do with this, this is about the inner human being experience.

      What I'm saying is when does a human being realizes that it's time for him/her to leave this life. When does he/she decides that they've lived long enough and that the life that they currently live is not a fraction of what they were at their prime; Their prime being whatever age they were at their physical and mental peak.
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        Apr 28 2013: You are talking about termination of life are you not? You do not know what the government has to do with that? Really? Do you envision a society where life can be terminated at-will with no legal, aka government, intervention or control?
        • Apr 28 2013: Edward, that is exactly what I'm talking about. This isn't about suicide in any way. Again, please stop talking about the government because I guarantee you that when I believe that my time on this earth is nearing its end, there is not a single man or woman (aside from my possible future wife) that can tell me no different.

          I might not be in control of all that I do, and not have the freedom to do all that I want to do because there are rules in society. I can die 5 minutes from now or I can die when I accept that my life has stretched long enough according to MY personal beliefs.

          Read my initial post and put yourself in the shoes of the person's life that I described and tell me where you think your thoughts/mind would be on the subject. That's all I'm asking really. It's a simple question.
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        Apr 28 2013: Either you are talking about suicide (assisted or otherwise) or your post is nonsense.
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    Apr 27 2013: .
    My answer:
    ---- When it is too old to "be happy validly".

    "Be happy validly" is to make a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive.
    This is determined by our instincts.
    The instincts are our ancestors' successful experiences 10,000 years ago.