In her long-form essay Dear Life, columnist and fiction writer Karen Hitchcock considers how we in Australia treat the elderly and dying. To the task she brings her formidable skills as a writer and her experience at the coalface, working as a staff physician in a Melbourne public hospital. The result is a sensitive, rigorous, and moving account that exposes the prevailing ageism in our medical services and in Australian society as a whole.
Countering the popular opinion that the elderly are becoming an increasing burden on our economy and resources, Hitchcock argues for an ethical and compassionate approach to aged care, where older people are no longer infantalised and patronised. Currently, the elderly are often sidelined in a world of increasing specialisation, where general physicians are becoming rare, health services fragmented, and systemic care of the patient overlooked.