How Shall We Care for Our Frail Elders?

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How Can We Best Care for our Frail Elders?

     The issue of what constitutes “best” care for the elderly is not easily identified nor readily defined. There are widely differing points of view, each with its own strengths and limitations. In addition, arguments are often full of bias and assumptions, making it even more challenging to form an intelligent opinion regarding this difficult problem. Differing points of view provide a variety of evidence, biases, and assumptions to be examined and interpreted before coming to a personal conclusion.
     Alan Sager, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, is in favor of a national health insurance policy that guarantees “quality health care for everyone” (Sager, 152). He insists that the government already spends enough to provide health care coverage for every citizen (Sager, 153). He presents a four-part plan with health care for all with no out-of-pocket expenses, financially neutral physicians and health-care professionals, hospitals operating on limited budgets, and freedom for each individual to choose a caregiver (Sager, 157). Sager provides many specific percentages, dollar amounts, and population numbers to supply supporting evidence. However, his attacks on Medicare distract from his proposed plan. (Sager, 155).
     Richard Lamm, former governor of Colorado and current professor at the University of Denver, asks some difficult questions as he challenges the priorities in our current health care system where “we spend too much money on high-technology care for a few and too little on basic health care for the many” (Lamm, 160). He also carefully cites percentages and population figures in his evidence statements. However, Lamm’s biases weaken his argument drastically. He over-uses “hot” adjectives and draws parallels that do not represent evidence but rather pull at the readers’ emotions (‘pain-racked existence,” “spend fantastic amounts,” “small chance of survival,” “over treating our sick and under educating our kids” (Lamm, 159-160).
     The complexities of this situation run deep. There are no simple answers or one-time, one-size-fits-all solutions. There is not one correct answer. Some of the reasons for many of the uncertainties that cause this problem to be so complex are:
1)     Extreme measures are being taken to extend the lifetime of very old people
2)     Sometimes when life is extended the quality of life may be severely reduced
3)     People with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are no longer fully aware of their surroundings
4)     The elderly have already lived for decades
5)     Opinions about the sanctify of life vary widely.
Once an open-ended problem has been identified, the solutions offered must be examined for bias, assumptions, and objections.

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"How Shall We Care for Our Frail Elders?." 19 Jun 2018
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Personal, religious, and political biases infiltrate an author’s choice of evidence to cite and color his or her conclusions. Sager makes his assumptions sound like evidence when he states, “the poor are typically in greater need of care,” and “people in other nations [where free health care is provided] are healthier as a result” (Sager, 153). In addition, he ascribes a motive to Congress to add deductibles and co-payments, claiming it was done “to restrain citizens from using benefits” (Sager, 155).
These statements weaken his argument and detract from his actual evidence. Lamm’s assumptions are also presented as if they are evidence. He states, “In practically every town in America, the best building is the hospital (40 percent empty) and the worst a school (usually overcrowded)” and “we have invented more health care than we can afford to pay for” (Lamm, 160). Notice the terms “practically” and “usually” which are based on assumption rather than evidence. Between the two authors, Sager provides more evidence than Lamm but also has more assumptions and bias. Lamm provides some valid evidence but has full paragraphs containing only assumptions. Both authors are passionate about their position on this issue and provide much food for thought.
     My perspective has drastically evolved from my original solution. I have an emotional reaction to the question of health care for our frail elders because I was so overwhelmingly saddened by the death of my grandmother at 96 and a close friend at 72. However, I cannot accept the absence of pre-natal, infant, and child health care to thousands of U.S. citizens while huge amounts of money are spent on “heroic” efforts to prolong the life of any elderly person who is “too far gone” to regain any significant quality of life. My suggestion would be free basic health care for all paid for by taxes. Doctors and health care providers would have salaries based on time and training rather than the amount of care prescribed for the patients. Older citizens would be encouraged (as they are now) to write out an Advanced Directive, and this would eliminate a great deal of the extended, expensive care. At this time, I would say that borderline cases should be decided on an individual basis, with potential quality of life the deciding factor. I do not know who would be the one to make these difficult decisions. I suggest we take steps toward the easier parts of the equation and re-evaluate as we progress toward satisfactory health care for our frail elders

Works Cited
Lamm, Richard D. “The Elderly Cannot Be Guaranteed Full Access to Health Care.” Viewpoint. I HAVE NO IDEA WHO PUBLISHED VIEWPOINT, DO YOU?

Sager, Alan. “The Elderly Should Be Guaranteed Full Access To Health Care.” Viewpoint. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

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