Aging and dying are inevitable. However, coming to terms with this truth can be difficult, especially in the modern context with an excessive dependence and faith in biomedicine. Advances in biomedicine and life-prolongation strategies along with changes in social-cultural structures pose a different kind of predicament – the percentage of aging population is on the rise and, at the same time, traditional strategies for taking care of the elderly and their problems are being replaced by more impersonal state-driven methods. India, with its large population, poor biomedical facilities for the average person, and widespread poverty, yet fast changing attitudes towards family and the aged, faces a great crisis today.
The collection of essays in this volume addresses different aspects of this issue. The first section is both philosophical and prescriptive. It explores our rich religious and philosophical tradition to probe the very concepts of life and death and then suggests strategies - age old and time-tested - for coping with the inevitability of aging and dying. Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic perspectives on aging, dying, euthanasia, and related concepts are explored and coping strategies suggested.
The second section deals with socio-ethical issues related to aging and dying in the Indian context, in light of the existing state of affairs and possible directions for the future. The third and final section looks at the most pressing problems that confront both Indian society and medicine – end-of-life care.
Chapter 10: A Plea for a Holistic Approach to Aging
A Plea for a Holistic Approach to Aging
Since time immemorial, the existence of the generation gap has been making communication between different generations a difficult process. More recently, the voluminous increase in the relative importance of the aged in populations across the world is adding fuel to this fire. In fact, it is leading to a serious inter-generational conflict owing to the view that the world's scarce resources are being diverted more and more to support the aged, who often appear to be drones on society. The aging of the world population is, hence, being increasingly looked upon as an unmitigated economic and social disaster.
This chapter, split into five parts, argues that a holistic perception of ...