Identifying Ethical Dilemmas Related To The Care Of Older Adults

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Identifying ethical dilemmas related to the care of older adults

Identifying ethical dilemmas related to the care of older adults


The world of the twenty-first century is experiencing an extraordinary revolution in longevity. During the last five decades we have on average gained almost 25 years in our life expectancy. In spite of this, however, we must admit that there has not been a true democratisation of longevity. It is a fact that whiles the world, especially the Western world has succeeded in adding years to life, and it has not yet succeeded in adding life to years. One of the paradoxes of the process of socio-economic development of the twentieth century is that while, on the one hand, the remarkable advances in medical science and technology have made it possible to prolong life, although at exorbitant costs, one the other hand, the provision of these very resources remains a major economic and social issue both for individual families caring for older members and also for every society at large. Healthy ageing must not be considered only from the medical point of view but must be fully integrated into an overall holistic approach. Good health does not merely mean the absence of disease and infirmity but takes into consideration the totality of the individual. The health and happiness of older adults is dependant upon social, economical, emotional, and psychological factors as well as the purely clinical aspects of physical and mental health. A person cannot feel healthy unless he is socially accepted by society. Issues related to ageing are multi-disciplinary covering such sectors as health care; education and cultural activities; housing and the environment; social assistance and family protection; recreation and rehabilitation; pension and invalidity insurance.

Body: Discussion and Analysis

With the rapid technological advancement in ageing and the increasing potential for continuation of life, medicine must increasingly move outside itself to solve the dilemmas and issues it presents. With advancing age, pathological conditions tend to increase. Older adults are those most likely to have some form of ailment or disability. Adults in the eighty and over age group are at higher risks to long-term illnesses and disabling conditions than other members in society. These gradually limit the older adult's ability to autonomy. In the health sector services for older adults will have to be aimed at problems of malnutrition, diseases of a chronic and degenerative nature, as well as the environmental hazards including AIDS. These targets vary according to regions and countries. Among the characteristic properties of illness in old age which have implications for health services one finds: a relatively high incidence of complications of disease, multiple pathology, non-specific presentation of disease, rapid deterioration if untreated, need for rehabilitation, and an urgent need of minimizing environmental challenges. The appropriate response for health and social services must integrate holistic diagnosis and assessment with systems for treatment and rehabilitation. The non-achievement of such standards would result in dire consequences including unnecessary suffering and prolonged ...
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