“Medical care for the elderly lags substantially behind in most Western countries.” Already in 2007, the Dutch professor of internal medicine and gerontology Rudi Westendorp made this claim in one of his famous lectures.
Westendorp advanced two arguments to prove medical care for the elderly lags behind. The first was that the medical protocols prevented a more coherent approach of the elderly. His second argument was that people over 65 were consistently excluded from medical research.
Unfortunately, in The Netherlands, Westendorp’s wake-up call fell on deaf ears. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Denmark. If the current pandemic proves anything, it is indeed that Westendorp was right and that medical care for the elderly lags behind.
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Table of contents
- 1 The welfare state abandoned the elderly
- 2 Painful muscle contractions, a cough, and a headache
- 3 Wars aren’t won by vaccinations
- 4 The big catastrophe: the medical care for the elderly
- 5 Who’s going to save the planet?
- 6 The pandemic is not predesigned
- 7 Why are we winning the battle and losing the war?
- 8 Our future is not predesigned
- 9 Our freedom comes with a lot of responsibility
- 10 The challenge is to navigate on our compass of trust
The welfare state abandoned the elderly
For me, one of the most confusing aspects of the current pandemic is that every step I take outside the house is determined by it. We have to wear masks all the time when outside on the streets or in a shop.
Even when I leave the house virtually, on Facebook, or talk with friends on Whatsapp, it’s all about the pandemic. The media only talk about 2 things: the virus and sports. The first you can get, the second you can’t visit.
The least you could say is that these are interesting times. It also points at the value of life: our own health, family, and a functioning welfare state. This last value, a functioning welfare state, is exactly where Westendorp’s claim refers to: the welfare state has abandoned the elderly.
Painful muscle contractions, a cough, and a headache
To prevent individual suffering is supposed to be at the core of the medical care of the welfare state. Efforts to control the covid-19 virus hopelessly failed and are still failing specifically when it comes to medical care for the elderly.
Iceland is the only country that has made the right choices. Their healthcare systems were all aimed at preventing suffering. And they statistically controlled the course of the pandemic. Hardly anybody died of the virus in Iceland.
They also concluded that fever is no symptom of the virus. The main symptoms are painful muscle contractions, combined with a cough, and a headache.
Wars aren’t won by vaccinations
“Wars aren’t won by evacuations,” Winston Churchill told the House of Commons on June 4, 1940. In the few days preceding these words, some 335,000 soldiers were successfully evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk and out of the claws of the approaching German army.
Churchill must have known that England already lost a war in the 18th century when George Washington made evacuations his main strategy during the Revolutionary War. The war that separated the USA thoroughly from England.
Are vaccinations now the main strategy in the battle against the virus? Is this the best way to get back to the old normal as soon as possible? What comes next? Another virus? Another vaccine? Are we finally going to lose the attacks on our immune system?
The big catastrophe: the medical care for the elderly
One of the most confusing aspects of the current pandemic is that Hannie and I don’t know anybody with the virus. Yes, we know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who they think contracted the virus and are at home and have some trouble to get started again.
At some point, I got rather frustrated with the stories and pictures in the media. These only add to the already burning fears of the elderly. How vulnerable are we? How can we contract the virus? When are we up for vaccination? How risky is the vaccine? And they are right to be anxious.
As a result of the neglect of medical care for the elderly, we’re heading towards a big catastrophe with warp speed. This is illustrated with the total lockdown of the world. There is no alternative for the lockdown, the masks, and all the other restrictions. All health care systems will be overcharged when we don’t comply. And all frail and vulnerable elderly will die.
Who’s going to save the planet?
Bill Gates is a brilliant man. And with him many of his billionaire colleagues. In business, they are brilliant. And in achieving their wealth. At the same time, their brilliance is limited to their personal goals. What really needs to be done on this planet, has to be done by us.
We, the tax-paying and law-abiding citizens determine our future. In this, for me, the frontline workers are far more inspiring than Bill Gates or any of his colleagues. They do their duty, despite the enormous personal risks.
And despite the fact that every day all the appreciation goes to the likes of Bill Gates. Frontline workers know that the handful of billionaires will not save the planet. But even the frontline workers will not be able to improve the medical care for the elderly.
The pandemic is not predesigned
One of the biggest lies that circles around on the Internet is that the pandemic is predesigned. However, there’s no logic in launching a virus that kills frail and vulnerable people. A virus causing the economy to collapse. The world to get in total lockdown.
Of course, the virus might have escaped from a laboratory. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Yet, these escapees are human mistakes. Viruses don’t escape out of human design. Although it would have been nice if the pandemic had been fought with more human design.
With the battle against the virus, we could’ve been on a far better track. We could have fared much better when from the start of the pandemic, like in Iceland, everybody concentrated on the end of the pipeline. A strategy aimed at those who are most affected, the frail and vulnerable elderly. Now it’s too late for that.
Why are we winning the battle and losing the war?
There are two examples of the way we could have fared better. The first is the development of a vaccine. And next, the medical care for the elderly. With a bit of luck, there are five types of vaccine.
However, at least another 55 types have been officially announced. Wasn’t one vaccine enough?
Moreover, why a vaccine? The vaccination of 7 billion people is a logistical nightmare. Why didn’t they design a pill? Or a capsule? These would have been easier to produce and easier to distribute.
Next, where is the vaccine, or the medication, or the therapy to cure those frail and vulnerable elderly. The elderly who contracted the virus, who got so terribly sick of it, and who died from it in horrific circumstances. Why are there so many companies working on the virus and not on the cure of those affected?
Our future is not predesigned
“After The Plague Came The Renaissance”. This text is written on the front of a boarded-up building in Santa Monica, California (USA). Of course, it’s not true. The plague raged on until almost the end of the 19th century. By that time the Renaissance was already over. However, the meaning of the text is obvious. It is to uplift the spirits of the millions who suffer from the pandemic.
At present, “After The Virus Comes The Old Normal” seems to be the slogan to uplift the spirits for most of us. Although some hope for ‘the new normal’, regrettably I must say that ‘the old normal’ is the current norm.
‘We must practice what we preach’ is a beautiful principle. It would, however, be nice if more people would preach something else. For instance, preach about a more sustainable lifestyle and practice it. At the core of this lifestyle should be a better relationship with our fellow human beings and our environment. Our future is not predesigned, what we practice is decisive.
Our freedom comes with a lot of responsibility
With our future, it’s as with wearing a mask. Everybody can decide to wear a mask or not. But does wearing a mask affect our freedom? Does the lockdown affect our freedom? And vaccination? The thing with freedom is that it comes with all kinds of risks. We don’t like most of those risks. Our entire society is equipped to prevent such risks.
However, not when it comes to medical care for the elderly. We have abandoned them in a terrible way. Is this the way we allocate the responsibility for our freedom? Are we only responsible for ourselves? When this was true nobody would dare to go out in the traffic. Not even with a car. How could we be sure that everybody would stop at a red traffic light? How could we ever be sure our food is safe? Or our drinking water?
Our freedom goes as far as we trust others to exercise their freedom with caution, with regard for the rules that guide our freedom, and with respect for the life and livelihood of others.
Sometimes our trust in others is challenged because the stakes are higher than we’re used to or would prefer. For instance when our life is at stake. As is now the case with the virus. This is why it’s important we fight for the victims of the pandemic. Predominantly the elderly.
Of course, the virus and the battle against the virus come with tremendous uncertainties. How do we cope with such uncertainties? Are we safest when we do nothing? When we stay at home and don’t eat and drink anything? Because we never know what might happen? Of course not. These are not serious options for us. For nobody.
What we all try to do at the moment is to navigate on our own compass of trust. The beauty is that this gives us all the freedom available. Available at the moment. Tomorrow the challenge, and with the challenge our freedom, might open up totally new perspectives. We might as well enjoy and cherish these different perspectives of freedom. For now and for tomorrow.
How do you appreciate the medical care for the elderly? Please let us know in the comment box.