Culture is a critical characteristic for the elderly because it results in ethical issues that threaten and affect the general quality of life negatively among the aged. Quality healthcare for the aged is considered as a strain on resources in other quarters. It is also accused of creating overpopulation. Old people from minority communities do not receive quality healthcare services similar to those given to the majority of communities. The elderly are exempted from the right to life because they are thought to be less important. Healthcare givers stigmatize the elderly, thereby failing to provide services to the elderly because suffering in this group is acceptable as a norm.
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Several ethical issues that relate to aging in society arise from the threat and differences in culture. The elderly have been castigated by their frail condition and the fact that their contribution to society is less compared to other energetic members of society. Culture is a critical characteristic among the elderly because it results in ethical issues that threaten and negatively affect the general quality of life among the aged. This paper analyses three important ethical issues, including the right to life, cultural biases, and stigmatization and stereotyping that the old suffer by their condition and age.
Right to life
The right to life is a common concept adopted by almost all societies and communities around life. However, this concept has been applied selectively concerning the old. Right to life is only looked at when referring to the embryo and not when referring to the improvement of life quality for the old. The old are looked at as people who have already enjoyed life, thus they no longer require special efforts and resources to better their conditions. Those in support of this view argue that life therapies only succeed in creating overpopulation in the society, which in turn results in underdevelopment.
Immortality therapies have continued to receive strong opposition, with those holding divergent views looking at these treatments as infringements to the rights of younger and upcoming generations or denying them the ability to have children (Haigh & Bagaric, 2002). The opponents of immortality therapies appear to suggest that the younger people in society have a right to life compared to the old because the latter group has been around for a considerable period. Immortality therapies have also been considered as strenuous on resources because the old require too much medical care facilities and attention, yet their contribution toward these resources is limited. While the proponents of this school of thought focus their argument around the embryo, it is illogical for them to oppose immortality therapies because old age is only a stage of an embryo’s maturity.
The aged from different communities are not treated uniformly when it comes to their right to receive healthcare services from social care facilities. This results in an ethical issue because all humans, irrespective of their ethnic background or status in life, must be treated equally. This business appears to have been officially incorporated into healthcare systems, including those that are run by the government. Basic services such as long-term healthcare for the elderly must be provided to all who deserve it since everybody pays taxes in a country without considering their status in life. This practice is unethical because even public systems are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics to achieve uniform service delivery.
The US is a large society made up of different communities and whose old people never receive the same long term healthcare services (Young, 2003). The old from the minority communities like African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are considered as second-hand citizens who do not deserve quality long-term healthcare services. On the other hand, the old from Caucasian communities receive the best healthcare quality services because they are rated as first-class citizens. These are serious ethical issues that are allowed to take place in society with little intervention because they have erroneously been accepted as the norm. The old are punished and overlooked because society thinks they do not belong to the right community. It is a serious ethical issue when society deals with its own subject’s health by subdividing individuals based on their ethnic backgrounds or social class. The minority communities in the US continue to register high death rates and general poor health among the old compared to the majority communities (Dilworth-Anderson, Pierre & Hilliard, 2012).
Stigmatization and stereotyping
Old people are stigmatized in society because people often associate their conditions with negative thinking and imagination. This mentality affects the old because they begin to look at themselves as outcasts who do not deserve to continue living with the rest of the members of society. Stigmatization and stereotyping mean that the old are even denied the right to make decisions that are respected by others. Instead, society thinks it is appropriate for them to make binding decisions for the old, irrespective of the wishes that they have. When it comes to life decisions, such as the elderly wishing to have their lives terminated rather than continually being subjected to live supporting machines, society often ignores such wishes and, instead, makes their own decisions. This is unethical because old age is not a negative condition that ought to be punishable. After all, it is part of the normal human lifecycle.
Nurses and other healthcare givers, including physicians, are guilty of holding their views concerning the elderly in society. Such stereotypes affect the quality of healthcare services offered to the aged because the nurses and physicians consider their judgments about the old, instead of following the standards laid out in professional healthcare practice (Sethe & de Magalhães, 2013). There are instances where the healthcare givers refuse to administer drugs to the old because they feel that old age must be subjected to some form of health challenges. The elderly are simply neglected while in the hands of the healthcare givers, yet this is against the code of ethics that governs the health sector. This is a serious ethical issue because while it is expected that the old should feel comfortable under the care of the healthcare givers, this is not the case. After all, the health professionals subject the elderly to further mental torture due to the stereotypes they hold over the aged (Richeson & Shelton, 2005).
Eldercare givers, including family members of the old person, often use unethical means and practices to benefit themselves at the expense of their clients. This involves exploiting the incapacitation of the old and taking the opportunity to make decisions that go against their wishes. Such acts may affect the health conditions of the elderly more, leading to early death in some instances.
Culture and other practices in society subject the elderly to various unethical conditions by their age. Therapies aimed at enhancing life for the elderly have been objected to by groups that believe the elderly do not have a right to life. Proponents of this idea argue that elongating the life of the elderly is strenuous to the limited resources that society can amass. Societies also subject the old to biases based on culture, thus denying individuals from minority communities the chance to benefit from quality healthcare services. This is perpetuated even as the elderly from majority communities enjoy access to high-quality long-term healthcare services. The old is mentally tortured because they are stigmatized based on their condition. Healthcare givers and eldercare providers, including nurses and physicians, are guilty of holding onto stereotypes when providing services to the old.
Dilworth-Anderson, P., Pierre, G., & Hilliard, T. S. (2012). Social justice, health disparities, and culture in the care of the elderly. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 40(1), 26-32.
Haigh, R. & Bagaric, M. (2002). Immortality and sentencing law. The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law, 2, 1-5.
Richeson, J. A., & Shelton, J. N. (2005). A social psychological perspective on the stigmatization of older adults. Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, 29(1), 75-84.
Sethe, S., & de Magalhães, J. P. (2013). “Ethical perspectives in biogerontology.” In: Schermer M, Pinxten W (eds.), Ethics, health policy and (anti-) aging: Mixed blessings. Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 173-188.
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Young, H. (2003). Challenges and solutions for care of frail older adults. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 8(2), 5. Web.