Letter: What we owe our old people

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The Independent Online
Sir: Angela Lambert's article ('Killing them with kindness', 8 September) espouses and extends the current ageism debate with the idea that any money spent on supporting old people, whether it is their own, part of social services or even our potential inheritance, is wasteful. Whose money is it anyway? 'The money from the sale of his flat' - he worked to buy his flat. 'They (old people) are an unjustifiable drain on resources' - many old people started work at 14 and retired at 65; they and/or their spouse have contributed half a century of weekly payments to the State to invest to support their old age. How much has Angela Lambert contributed?

Many suffered 'career dislocation' by six years at war, and some have carried physical and emotional scars thereafter; others contributed boyfriends, husbands and brothers to two world wars.

Please spare us benevolent panels called 'Merciful Release' which will decide who lives or dies based on meaningless and naive questions. Do any of us fully know our own mind? Have we never felt life was not worth living? Will it become necessary for us all to seek a personal advocate when we reach the threshold? Life is an incurable disease, though pain is not incurable if appropriate facilities are not denied elderly patients.

We hope that Angela Lambert was being ironic to promote a rational debate regarding the care and support of an increasing segment of our society.

Yours faithfully,

MICHAEL LYE

Professor of Geriatric Medicine

SHAUN O'KEEFFE

Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine

University of Liverpool

Liverpool

9 September

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