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Elderly in Society: Callahan’s “Why We Must Set Limits”


The elderly face many challenges, such as physical and mental health issues, financial constraints, and negative societal attitudes toward aging. In the United States, age discrimination is a common problem for older adults, adversely affecting their well-being. The baby boom generation lives in a distinctive historical moment due to the evidenced global upheavals in the environment, finance, and politics. In “Why We Must Set Limits,” Callahan gives controversial strategies for the government and society to take concerning the health of the elderly.

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Daniel Callahan gives contentious limits concerning the health of older adults. One argument is on an economic principle that will enable them is managing their finances well, mainly because their health is not given much attention as that of children and youth (Moody & Sasser, 2018). Callahan continues to argue that the elderly must be conservators of health to leave a legacy for the rest of the age groups to emulate. Limits need to be set for the elderly regarding the costs of their healthcare. Moreover, according to Callahan, the government should not medically lengthen lifespan but let it end naturally, and second, not use life-extending technology because it is not an obligation (Moody & Sasser, 2018). Lastly, instead of looking for ways to prolong life, the government should only relieve suffering. Therefore, these are some of the limits that need to be set regarding old age, according to Callahan.

Aging is a common phenomenon in American culture; unfortunately, the elderly in America are not usually accorded the respect they deserve. Older adults in the United States are more likely to be ill than children and youth (Moody & Sasser, 2018). They also have financial challenges, making it difficult for them to meet adequate medical care. According to Callahan, after having lived a long life, the elderly should not be provided high-quality long-term health care but allowed to die a natural death when it comes, without having to extend their life through medical technology. Instead, the younger populations are usually given more attention than older adults. Therefore, society views the elderly as a burden because the government has to cater to their health care costs.

The elderly are sidelined and pushed to the periphery in many societal aspects. Callahan argues that this neglected perspective is rightfully so because older adults do not have much to add to the economy, as do younger populations. The elderly need to be allowed to die a natural death because they should have accomplished all their dreams by then instead of using medical technology to extend their lives (Moody & Sasser, 2018). Since most older adults are battling multiple chronic illnesses, it is not fair to neglect them when they need health care most. Therefore, according to Callahan, the position of the elderly is that they do not add much value to society, and thus, the government does not need to maintain their health by all means.

I do not agree with Callahan regarding his perspective on the elderly. These people have dedicated much of their youth and young adulthood to building the nation, and some of them acquired their current diseases while in the line of duty. Therefore, they have the right to enjoy all the health privileges accorded to the rest of the age groups; after all, aging is a natural process. Since they are battling many battles, like finances and discrimination, I think that taking care of their health is an important way of improving their quality of life and wellbeing. Life-extending medical technology is one of the best approaches to end-of-life care. Callahan’s support for euthanasia and assisted suicide is somewhat cruel because aging is only a natural process.


In conclusion, Callahan gives a controversial verdict concerning the health of the elderly without considering the many challenges they battle at this age. For these reasons, Callahan sounds harsh to the suggestions or limits concerning the way these people should be treated. Since aging is a natural process, the entire society and the government need to promote their health to ensure they exit the world honorably.


Moody, H. R., & Sasser, J. R. (2018). Aging: Concepts and controversies. SAGE Publications.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 21). Elderly in Society: Callahan’s “Why We Must Set Limits”. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, July 21). Elderly in Society: Callahan’s “Why We Must Set Limits”.

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