As with all other crises, America's COVID-19 pandemic has sparked discussions that use our two favorite metaphors: war and sport. we fight a fierce battle against the virus, fight for our lives while researchers and pharmaceutical companies races to find a vaccine and jump over obstacles to get their discoveries and products on the finish line.
Given these trends, it should come as no surprise that at a time when major league sports struggle to start, restart, or continue their seasons, discussions about the possible need for healthcare rationing naturally include athletic references - more specifically, to those of the American national pastime, baseball.
In a recent blog post from The New Old Age, titled "Should Young People Go First in Coronavirus Care?", New York Times columnist Paula Span quotes the opinion of retired bioethicist Dr. Larry Churchill: “…[H]He subscribes to a “lifespan approach” to ethics, sometimes referred to as the “fair innings” approach: he has had his turn at bat. Younger people had less time to discover the opportunities and pleasures of life. "
Comparing the death of a 40-year-old man to his own, Churchill, 75, sees the elder as "tragic" because of this person's "unrealized potential" as opposed to his own demise, which would simply be " sad".
In all fairness, Span writes, Churchill is not claiming that everyone should buy into his point of view, which he believes is only appropriate for himself. Each of us, the elderly, should decide for ourselves whether or not to forgo hospitalization, ventilation or other means of care so that a younger person can benefit from them.
But let's look in more detail at the validity of making such a comparison.
In America's new national hobby called "surviving the pandemic," our testing, tracking and treatment resources are scarce and disproportionately distributed. As a result of this situation - and unlike a baseball game - each of us may be limited to the number of "bats" we receive for processing.
And so healthcare providers as well as the rest of us are forced to consider two painful questions: 1) Who can decide which patients are admitted to the ICU, are offered the available drugs and, if necessary, put. on a ventilator? and 2) What should these decisions be based on?
In citing the criterion of "potential," Churchill reflects an ageist position that assumes that the passage of years naturally reduces a person's chances of being productive, engaged, or contributory, however he defines them. For him, potential is based solely on his place in the timeline of life. But who can draw such a general conclusion?
Given the intersectionality of ageism with systemic racism, sexism, ableism and classism in our culture, this 40-year-old's potential could be drastically stifled or even nullified by simply living her life as a woman, d immigrant, poor or minority; or living with a disability, in a rural area without internet access, or in an area with insufficiently funded public schools. Remember that institutionalized discrimination is often the main cause of a person's “unrealized potential”.
Recognizing this intersectionality is vital in addressing the effects of COVID-19 on the elderly. To this end, the American Geriatrics Society published a position statement that said, in part:
A just health system should treat people in a similar situation as much as possible. There is something particularly unfair about belonging to a class, such as an age group, in determining whether a person is receiving health care ... When assessing co-morbidities, the disparate impact of determinants social health, including culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other factors, should be considered.
As Span points out: “The declaration also opposes criteria such as 'years of life saved' and long-term life expectancy, which also disadvantage the elderly population. Instead, he recommends treating patients based on the likelihood of being discharged from the hospital and surviving for six months. "
We should recognize ageism as a global social pandemic we are inoculating ourselves and others with the vaccine of education about what aging really is - and isn't - so that we can develop antibodies against ageism internalized in ourselves and prejudice / bigotry in others.
This is the strategy for the full season.
In the meantime, as COVID-19 rages across the world, governments and healthcare systems must abandon long-standing tribal rules that pit two “teams” --– Young and Old –– one against the other. The real deadly game is between members of all leagues (based on age, socioeconomic status, race, gender, geographic location, and physical ability) against the virus itself . Everyone, regardless of their situation or condition, deserves an unlimited number of bats.
Therefore, those responsible for allocating resources, leading research and caring for the sick should stop focusing on a rationing strategy that determines who will live and who will die based on general parameters. Instead, they should fully commit all their efforts and resources to maximize rapid, accurate, and efficient diagnosis, individualized treatment of anyone infected with the virus.
To win against COVID-19, they shouldn't kick anyone off the field. Instead, they should immediately create, distribute, and follow a robust, organized, and universal playbook outlining four guidelines:
Enter the game.
Get on the plate.
Swing for fences.
And get him out of the park.
* This post was originally published on the Old Man Blog
What does it mean to age gracefully ? You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger. While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.
Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and esprit health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right care. Read on to find out what to do and what not to do on your quest to age happily.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide impression. tera keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide impression. to keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood. The Department of Health
Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source recommends that you eat : fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or cannedlean protein, such as fish and beansat least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every daythree servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin Dhealthy fatsAvoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. You should also keep your salt intake to a minimum to keep your blood pressure down.
Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well. to keep your mood elevated : Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve esprit and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods. Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging real longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only mazout your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.
Numerous studiesTrusted Source have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some options to stay réactive are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.
The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress, including : using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yogaexercisinggetting adequate sleeptalking to a friend
Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommendedTrusted Source amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Good sleep is important for your physical and esprit health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for seven to eight hoursTrusted Source of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to : lower the risk of heart disease and strokereduce stress and depressionlower the risk of obesityreduce inflammationimprove focus and concentration
Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and real longer.
Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including : improved focusbetter memorylower stressimproved emotional reactionrelationship satisfactionincreased immune functioningTo practice mindfulness, try : meditationyogatai chicoloring
Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been provenTrusted Source to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water you should drink depends on : your thirstyour activity levelhow often you urinate and move your bowelshow much you sweatyour genderSpeak to a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your water intake.
Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, septicémie, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.
Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening tests as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.
Though aging is inevitable, some people find it difficult to deal with the changes that come with getting older. If you’re worried about your health, are having trouble feeling positive about aging, or worry that you’re not aging well it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Professional help is also available through a doctor or a counselor.
Aging gracefully is more about being saine and happy than keeping wrinkles at bay. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy. It’s natural to worry about the challenges that aging can bring, so don’t hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns.