If no one else is hurt, let the elderly indulge

We all have our vices and health-defying pernicious habits, and we need to be alert to these in our desire to have a long and healthy life (Don't encourage patients' requests to feed unhealthy habits, by Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng; May 22).

But I believe that once a person reaches the healthy age of 80, the basic pre-existent conditions for a continued healthy life are already present.

These elderly have earned their right to indulge in the minor pleasures of life.

We should not dictate how their eating, drinking or smoking habits should be at that age, as long as they do not interfere negatively with others who are still striving to attain a long life.

For instance, allowing the terminally ill to smoke in the wards could result in their family members inhaling second-hand smoke.

Worse still, other patients' visitors could be affected by third-hand smoke.

Insisting on curbs and restraints in our elders' twilight years is cruel.

We should accommodate their dying wishes unless their requests come into conflict with third-party interests.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'If no one else is hurt, let the elderly indulge'. Print Edition | Subscribe