Bioethics must value and empower "Geront"
- R.N. Sharma, Ph.D.
Flat Nos. 15-16, Building 'A'
Moraya Residency, Sus Road, Pashan
(Opp. Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya), Pune 411021, INDIA
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 153.
Old books, monuments, sculpture, artefacts, even customs and beliefs are often regarded as gold. Only many human cultures have had reservations about their aging members. From the ancient practices of abandoning the old to languish and die in the wilderness, to the modern growing numbers of old people's homes is a welcome trend. The situation is not really addressed, however, and is still looked upon by progressive individuals and societies as a problem. Bioethics has become a player in this field by entry into various Gerontological forays. In view of a rapidly greying humanity, concomitant with rising populations and increasing life expectancies, it has become necessary to redefine and restructure our goals and options vis a vis the aging fraternity of our species. The quality of life of the old, physical, mental, psychological and spiritual, must be given such enhancement as possible by continually and rapidly evolving medicinal, biological and socio-economic techniques. Bioethics struggles to give value, and empowerment to the unborn and the variously deprived. The 'old' , often at the height of their intellectual, spiritual and experiential prowess (especially in many developing, countries with enforced superannuations), albeit with physical capabilities on the decline (actually this starts chronogically much earlier),
often suffer from deliberate or inadvertent absence of human camaraderie in its manifold manifestations at a time when they need such support most. The transcension of the limitations of biological evolution by the human species in all its vicarious dimensions, including the life span and its quality, is a dream which should be realised by the species as a whole, not piecemeal, by select segments, as has been the case so far. For this, the aging must be reinducted wherever possible into the stream of 'active' (working, creative, appreciated) humanity and every effort made to obviate or mitigate various gerontological disabilites. Along with medical/genetic amelioration, socio-economic rehablitation/empowerment must also be incorporated into a new blueprint of the aging humanity the world over. This vital 'grey' area must figure conspicuously in the precinct of Bioethics.
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