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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Shame on us, if living is so unbearable for older people that they would rather die

It is the bank holiday, and I was not planning to write anything today [6 May] but a letter to a daily newspaper shocked me into writing

A centenarian's letter was the catalyst. He wrote, there is nothing wrong with him, but he is bored out of his mind in a care home - why cannot he die now.

It is a horrifying indictment of care homes, in particular, and society, in general, that he is so unhappy with the life he is living - 'playing childish games and singing silly songs' - that he would rather die. Of course, someone is paying fees for him to be cared for, in all probability he is, in the belief that he would be living a good life. But he isn't. And, even though he is not ill and not in pain, he asks why cannot he die.

Is this what campaigners for 'assisted dying' envisage? People preferring to die because the life that has been inflicted on them is so awful they want to be put out of their misery. OLM has long argued, we will look back with shame on our care home culture.

You often hear it said, older people are living too long, the implication being that they would be better off dead. Now, older people are arguing this.

Of course, the letter writer is entitled to say what he thinks. But it is a shame on us that he does so. This is not a 'hard case' of a terminally ill person, who wishes to control their end, which is touted as the reason to endorse 'euthanasia'. But it is likely to be the reality of legalising assisted dying. You can even imagine in future some bureaucrat deciding one by one that people should be put down, rather than go into a care home. This would not be because of the cost, of course not, but because their life would be officially deemed 'not worth living'.

Maybe, this letter will finally encourage the care sector to start doing what it is paid for and which is boasts is the reality - before it really kills the goose that lays the golden egg. But we all need to think what this letter means for us and our society.

You often hear it said that older people are living ‘too long’, the implication being, that they would be better off dead

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