A home for old people. One where the very old people are. People who have nearly nothing left to live for, who are literally waiting for the end. Have you ever been there? No? Humour me and do it. It’s an eye opener.
Go there and look around you. That is where society will send us. People have to get older and older because of science and health care. (Because we get older we’re also ‘allowed’ to work longer, despite the number of jobs going down because of automation, but more on that later perhaps.)
Are people made to be that old? And in that way? Like little heaps of human who have everything behind them, and nothing ahead except the coffin? I don’t think so.
How many of them would choose for a dignified end? Because a dignified existence isn’t an option for so many of them. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about then I implore you to have a look in such a home for the very old. Look at the walkers. The wheelchairs with all kinds of supports in which old people are fed. People who sleep most of the day or have no clue what’s happening around them.
That’s not for me. I would like to keep this life and death in my own hands. Enough, after all, is enough. Also where life is concerned.
Sometimes you hear about, or talk to people whose parents don’t recognise them any more. That sounds sad. It’s even more sad when it happens to you. Like it did to me today. Dad was talking to me for a while already when suddenly he said, “The other one is coming too.” I asked him whom he was talking about. “Paul. He lives far away, and he has cats.”
When you hear that, it’s quite a shock. I told him I am that Paul. That surprised him. A little while later he started again about Paul. The one from Cuijk. Something like that makes me think.
Do I want to be old like that? Who does he think I am now? How often did he now know who I was before?
My Dad has been ‘slipping’ for a while already, and sometimes that’s hard to see. I know it’s hard on him as well; I can tell that from the look in his eyes and the pain in his voice. Everything becomes a jumble. Bookkeeping, computers, taxes, the past, the present, everything that once was and… perhaps even what never was? Today he told me, “It’s no good living like this.” He suffers from this too because he often has very clear moments and then he knows that in his head everything’s going wrong.
I don’t want to be old like that. When the time comes I want a dignified end. A good death. That is why I became a member of the Dutch Society for Euthanasia. Because, really, I don’t want to be old that way…