The “Live or Die” Decisions for Seniors During A Global Pandemic

  The intensity and stress level on health and social workers have reached an all-time high. Not only because they are in the front line, physically fighting virus and be closely exposed to the virus while treating people. But more importantly, develop serious trauma mentally, instructed to make live or die decisions for their senior patients. Someplace more directly, senior citizens were “offered” to sign an agreement of letting treatment chances to go for the younger sick instead. Social media also becomes an express channel for senior and health workers to describe the cruel side at this time.

In Spain, patients that are age 65+ must have their ventilator removed for the younger people. Medical workers have been in tears and mental meltdown, they can’t believe as someone who is supposed to save lives, now are making decisions for one of the most vulnerable groups in this pandemic to die. This reminds me of the Hofling et al experiment. It was an experience to ask nurses to deliver a deadly dosage of medicine to a patient from an unknown source. 0 out of 21 student nurses would not administer the drug that was obviously and dangerously excessive dose to a patient. Here, pulling out the ventilator serves the same as obvious and dangerous action to do. So, what changed the medical workers’ response nowadays? Is it because this was a hard order and authorized by the hospital policy? But also led me to think of how powerful social media platform is, it allows ordinary people to voice out their plight from anywhere in the world.

A similar thing happens in the UK as well. After promoting the idea of “herd immunity” strategy. Age UK and other age sector organizations in an open letter posted on April 7th revealed the cases of senior residences asked to sign forms on giving up CPR if they are found having symptoms (Age UK). A lady from senior home posted a video expressing her disappointment on treatment by others at this pandemic time. She says she’s willing to give more chances to young people but having this agreement handed to her makes her feel her life is not valuable and it is very sad.

So why senior citizens “less favorable” to save in this pandemic? At least social media allows this to be spoken out and allows more attention and practical responses to these unseen sector in our society.

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