• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.

Old Age, Disease and Terminal Care: A Hindu Perspective
Old age, disease and terminal care: A Hindu perspective

Aging is the normal progress of life; death is the inevitable conclusion. Aging results in the progressive peaking of a man's physical, social and psychological attributes, and culminating in an end which could be either sudden or slow. Although a disease can intervene somewhere (or anywhere) in the graph of life, it strikes more often in old age. Undoubtedly, old age is associated with disease and disability. However, it remains debatable whether this is merely an association or a cause-and-effect relationship.

Old Age and Disease Association

Leonard Larson, in a statement to the Senate Finance Committee,1 said: ‘There are no diseases of the aged, but simply diseases among the aged.’ ...

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