Aging is a fact of life, and issues surrounding it are hot. There are currently 35 million Americans over the age of sixty-five - more than ever. This demographic shift is noteworthy not only because the ranks of the elderly will continue to swell in coming years but also because it is taking place in what the editors of this book call an "ageist society," one that increasingly loathes every facet of aging. Indeed, the ethical issues associated with aging are among the thorniest in medicine and public policy today. Aging, Death, and the Quest for Immortality is a timely volume by physicians, health-care professionals, pastors, and ethicists who explore the experiences, dilemmas, and possibilities associated with aging. The book opens by offering three distinct perspectives on aging; this section includes practical suggestions for dealing with retirement, disability, healing, and death. Several contributors then analyze controversial ethical issues raised by aging and health care, including medical decision-making, the moral standing of patients with dementia, health-care rationing, and assisted suicide.A third group of essays applies a theology of care to ministry to and through older adults, the counseling of seniors, and the application of palliative care.
The book closes by discussing some of the emerging technologies and interest groups aimed at achieving immortality, also asking, appropriately, what insights the Christian faith brings to the discussion. Reflecting much wisdom and sensitivity, this book will give welcome help to care providers and to those who are themselves in the later stages of life.