Leo McKern (aka Rumpole of the Bailey) said he could not imagine any vice worth giving up just so he could live for a few more years in a nursing home. Was he right? What risks should we avoid to make old age less difficult?


5 Answers

Darik Majoren Profile
Darik Majoren answered

I look back at many people with Vices and wonder . . . Even though I find it distasteful, perhaps, this is what brings them happiness. Isn't the pursuit of Happiness what we should strive for in life . . . Isn't this the difference between living and existing?

I look at Christopher Hitchens . . . He loved to drink and smoke and you can find numerous videos where, like a "Lounge Singer", He has a scotch in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other . . . When he was diagnosed with cancer, I don't think he had that many regrets with regards to these vices. Here was a man who clearly knew that this w=life was all there is and chose to live it in with vices that shortened it but made him happy.

My Father-in-law is bound to a wheel chair. What truly made him happy in life was to be out in nature and to hunt. Now he is "existing" in a wheel chair. He gets up, the nurses put him in his chair, he watches TV and reads . . . Eats 3 square meals and repeats each day. The pharmaceuticals he takes keeps him alive, but he is not living. 

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
Very telling contrast. I'm sorry to hear about your father in law. It's not something I wish on anybody and it happens to too many.

Incidentally, McKern did end up in a nursing home but only for the final few months of his life. He lived it all the way.
PJ Stein Profile
PJ Stein answered

After seeing the damage smoking does, it is not a matter of a few years in a nursing home. It is a huge difference in the quality of life for what can be decades.

Smoking has cost my mother-in-law her vision and her ability to breathe freely. She is mostly housebound because she is attached to an oxygen machine, and she can no longer see to drive.

My sister-in-law's brother is skin and bone. He has lost all his teeth. His heart is shot after several heart attacks. He is living on borrowed time. 

There was a woman in my father-in-law's nursing home who lost fingers on both hands because of Buerger's Disease. It shuts down the circulation to the fingers and toes, and them become gangrene and have to be removed. She was in her early 60s and was mentally sharp, but she was stuck in a nursing home because she was unable to take care of herself because she had little use of her hands. It is hard to hold a fork and feed yourself with only two fingers.

It is a vice well worth giving up. As I said it is not a few years, it can be decades of poor quality  of life.

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
That's a scary answer, Gator. Yes, I gotta agree with you. Only one of my kids smokes. She's 56 now and smokes upwards of 50 cigarettes a day. So far she's not showing too many signs of ill health but I suspect that when the crash comes it's likely to be deadly. Worries the hell out of us.

I watched my neighbour die slowly with emphysema. It took a few years and wasn't pretty to see or hear.
Bikergirl Anonymous Profile

Anyone who thinks in those terms isn't thinking about what is TRULY important.  

Being around for the people you are important to (like family) is far more important .  I, for one, want to be around for my grandkids .. I want to be part of everything from the first day of school to the last day of high school .. From their first love to their wedding day, the birth of their first child, and beyond.  I want to continue to  be my kids friend and confidant. I want to continue doing my job as a wife, a parent and a grandparent...for THEM as much as for ME.

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
McKern was tongue-in-cheek when he said it and I suspect that he was talking about his love affair with the dining table. He was enormously overweight.
Thrice Gotcha Profile
Thrice Gotcha answered

i dont need to destroy myself in order to enjoy myself if being happy means you need to dull your sences or cloud your judgement then your not happy to begin with

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
You're probably right but part of your answer reminds me of an Abbott and Costello skit.
Abbott: Money can't buy you love, money can't buy you friendship; money can't buy you happiness.
Costello: Just give me the money and I'll do my own shopping.
Thrice Gotcha
Thrice Gotcha commented
Tom  Jackson Profile
Tom Jackson answered

I think that is a sound attitude.

If there is no need to take extraordinary measures to prolong life when facing death proximately, I suggest that it is also reasonable that we live our lives without having an obligation to take extraordinary measures to avoid things that may reduce the otherwise expected span of our lives.

Plus, what would have happened if volunteers hadn't gone into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to help control the situation?

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