Monday, April 22, 2024

The US isn’t any nation for previous males | Opinions

Shortly previous to his dying from prostate most cancers in August of this yr on the age of 72, my father emerged from a state of muteness to recite, with a burst of power, the 1927 poem, Crusing to Byzantium, by William Butler Yeats, which begins: “That’s no nation for previous males.”

My mom, my uncle, and I have been current for the impromptu efficiency, which happened in my father’s mattress in Washington, DC, the place he had commenced in-home hospice care after the chemotherapy therapies that had been pressured upon him by profit-oriented docs had accelerated his demise.

This was however certainly one of many poems my father had memorised as a younger man intent on honing his mental credentials; my mom and uncle – who of their youth had additionally fallen underneath the affect of my dad’s cerebral pursuits – joined in on the strains they remembered. Having accomplished his vehement recitation, my father resumed his typically mute state, which was thereafter punctuated solely by intermittent outbursts about eager to die.

I’ve no approach of understanding what was going by my dad’s thoughts throughout that last poetic eruption, however the first line of the Yeats poem did appear to be a becoming commentary on the nation wherein we discovered ourselves – the one the place we had all been born and the one my dad and mom and I had spent years avoiding. My mother and pop had solely comparatively lately returned to reside within the homeland after practically eight years in Barcelona; I had flown into Washington in August from Turkey, which was certainly one of my common stops in a 20-year self-imposed exile.

Certainly, my father’s last months had merely confirmed that the US is “no nation for previous males”. Counterproductive chemotherapy therapies have been however one of many methods he had been milked for all he was value, earlier than being turned over as prey to the profitable realm of funeral and cremation providers.

For instance, for a one-month prescription of the prostate most cancers drug Xtandi, a drugs developed with none apart from US taxpayer cash, my father had been charged $14,579.01 – ie, greater than many individuals in america earn in a number of months. For folk missing the means to pursue healthcare and different primary wants, US capitalism may be lethal, too.

And whereas US society specialises in oppressing a variety of demographics – minus, in fact, the elite minority that thrives on acute inequality – the remedy of the aged is especially cynical. Having outlived their labour-based exploitability as cogs within the capitalist machine, older folks change into decaying objects from which revenue should proceed to be extracted till the final minute.

In keeping with the outcomes of a West Well being-Gallup survey revealed in 2022, roughly one in 4 Individuals aged 65 and older and three in 10 Individuals between the ages of fifty and 64 stated that they had sacrificed primary wants, comparable to meals, to pay for healthcare.

The examine discovered that older girls and Black Individuals have been disproportionately affected and that punitive well being care prices constituted a big supply of stress within the every day lives of older Individuals, with stress naturally solely exacerbating current medical points.

Add vampire-like insurance coverage firms to the combination, and the panorama turns into ever extra morbid. The prohibitive charges related to many programmes – coupled with insurance coverage outfits’ frequent refusal to cowl lifesaving therapies – signifies that life itself continues to be a privilege and never a proper in america.

Then there’s the $34bn assisted-living trade, which a latest Washington Publish investigation revealed to be stricken by wanton neglect regardless of charging a median of $6,000 a month per resident. Since 2018, the Publish reported, greater than 2,000 residents have wandered off unnoticed from such services, and practically 100 of them have died after doing so.

A lot for “assisted dwelling”.

To make certain, the loneliness and isolation that so typically attends previous age within the US does nothing to extend life expectancy; nor does the distinctive stigma that US “tradition” attaches to ageing. Because the American Psychological Affiliation (APA) has famous, institutionalised ageism in america entails a “host of unfavorable results, for folks’s bodily and psychological wellbeing and society as an entire”.

Granted, loneliness and isolation are sometimes lifelong afflictions for inhabitants of the so-called “land of the free”, the place the collective psychological wellbeing is hardly helped by a dog-eat-dog insistence on particular person success on the expense of communal and household bonds and the conversion of human beings into consumerist automatons.

And the cutthroat, transactional nature of existence within the US culminates, appropriately, with aged our bodies being put up for grabs by pharmaceutical firms, nursing properties, and the company racket referred to as the US healthcare system.

That stated, the US is, in truth, a nice nation for some previous males – comparable to former warmongering diplomat Henry Kissinger, who perished at house in Connecticut in November on the ripe previous age of 100 after spending a great a part of his life inflicting the deaths of numerous folks worldwide.

Not lengthy after my father’s dying in August, I fell into dialog with a Bolivian man in his 50s who had resided in Washington for greater than 20 years and who expanded on the “no nation” theme. He deliberate to stay it out for an additional 10 to fifteen years earlier than returning to his house metropolis of Cochabamba, he advised me, as a result of he couldn’t afford to be previous within the US.

And whereas the US could also be “no nation for previous males”, it’s not a lot of a rustic for anybody else, both.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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