Dr. Robert N. Butler is the President and CEO of the International Longevity Center. Whether through his many appearances in front of the United States Congress, or his hundreds of interviews with the media, Dr. Butler has worked tirelessly for decades to push population-aging issues into the public discourse. As a gerontologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Butler recognized discrimination against the elderly as early as 1968, coining the term "ageism." Eight years later, the publication of his Pulitzer-prize-winning "Why Survive? Being Old in America" solidified his reputation as someone who foresaw the impact that aging would have on American society. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the nation's first department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Butler often consults for television and radio. He is the author of some 300 scientific and medical articles. Source: The International Longevity Center
Question: Is prolonging life necessary at all costs?
Robert Butler: I don’t think we should just leave old people alone. I mean there is no reason why they should be put in isolation. I think the decision as to when one dies should be a mutual decision including of course of the patient, the doctor, the family and that is what actually happens probably about 70% of the time and then there are times when people have not written out an advanced directive or maybe they don’t have a family to look out or be their proxy or confusion reigns or different religious and other attitudes get into the situation, but by and large it should be prearranged by an individual to state exactly what they would want at the end of their life and under what circumstances.
Recorded on: March 17, 2008