September 04, 2008

Perspective (4)

I have been confronted by ageing issues this week, although fortunately not specifically my own.
1. As I have mentioned previously, I teach graduate medical students, and yesterday the subject under discussion was how best to manage patients with chronic disease for which there is no definitive treatment.  The idea was that the students would consider the problems of providing support and maintaining a good doctor-patient relationship when there can be little improvement in the condition. I was once again somewhat disappointed to find that their attitude depended almost solely on the age of the patient: 
  • anyone under about 30 would get their full support and be offered an impressive range of alternatives.
  • anyone "old" was expected to understand that some things could not be treated, and that they must therefore "live with it". (They were polite enough not to mention an actual age, out of deference to what they probably see as my own advancing decrepitude. ;))
2. When I mentioned this to a colleague, she told me about a 99-year old patient of hers, who was still well and active and living at home. The patient apparently lied about her age when socialising with other "senior citizens", because she found that being truthful was often seen as boastful. 
In effect, she was a whole  generation older than most of her acquaintances, and found it difficult to make new friends among those "only" in their 70's. 

3. An amusing email belatedly doing the rounds shows a mock-up of the social networking site Facebook as it might appear in 50 years time, when Generation Y (like my students) reach their 70's.
(If that is itself a copy I hope someone will correct me. I do like to give credit to the original source of these endlessly replicated items.)

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