I think that this is a difficult topic to understand. The current medical-assistance system was not designed for people to live into their 90s (or longer).
However, a doctor is under a rule to "do no harm" and the third line of the modern Hippocratic Oath states, "I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism." So, a doctor should help anyone who needs the help.
Then again, the cost of such care is enormous. During the Obamacare debates two years ago, people argued about "death panels." While it was dismissed by the media and even those who were pushing the legislation, the truth is much more perplexing. For such a system to exist -- the government would have to implement a system of "importance" in regard to which individuals are most needy vs. those who have the better chance at a long outcome.
So, what happens when the elderly are in need? After all, the elderly (by their physical conditions) just happen to be the most "in need" than others. And, of course, "baby boomers" began reaching 65 years of life last year. If Obamacare is not repealed (or redesigned), there will be an extraordinary set of choices that will be imposed upon doctors regarding the elderly. Otherwise, the cost of treating them will be enormous.
One problem associated with this topic is that the term "elderly" is subjective. I happen to come from a family that lives long and healthy lives. My great grandmother lived to 101. Her mother lived to 109. Her mother lived to 108. In addition, they were all very healthy up until the very end. They didn't require the assistance of wheel chairs, nurses, or any other special equipment.
Of course, that doesn't mean that I am guaranteed to live such a long and healthy life. After all, we aren't even promised tomorrow. Still, more and more people are pushing the limits of age and health. This raises the question of medical ethics. Is it wrong to perform an expensive surgery on a 105 year old woman that might not even prolong her life but for weeks or months?
In the "old days," surgeries were paid for by individuals and not governments (or insurance companies). If someone couldn't afford a surgery, they either had to face life without it -- or come up with the income for it. I have read stories of individuals where the FAMILY had to come up with the money to pay for a surgery for mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather or a sibling. Today, many people literally think that it is the government's responsibility.
In one of my graduate public policy classes, we were posed with a question about social responsibility. Our professor polled the class and the majority of students said that the responsibility for caring for elderly parents should lay with the STATE and not the children. In fact, I was one of only three students who voted the other way around.
I was surprised. However, the rationale used to guide their vote was motivated by selfishness. The other students said that elderly parents would just be too difficult and time-consuming for them to assist.
Now, the question was not about parents who need constant hospital care. The question was simply about caring for elderly parents who might not have the money to survive.
The selfish response reminded me of the selfish rationale for most abortions committed in the United States. It isn't about life or death, children from rape or anything like it. It was that the mothers didn't want the social and fiscal responsibility for children that result from sex.
My parents are still in their 50s. However, my wife's parents are in their 60s. Her parents weren't able to have children for the first 12 years of their marriage. Then, they couldn't seem to stop. :-) My wife has nine siblings in her family. As a result, her parents gave birth to several children while in their 40s. Now, they are in their 60s. They are very healthy, but the notion of how to care for them has entered our conversations from time-to-time.
I have made it clear to my wife that her parents are WELCOME to live with us if the need ever presented itself. She has acquiesced in regard to any need for caring for my parents too. I think that this is moral and even spiritual prerogative. If my wife's parents needed a surgery that wasn't covered for them, we would sell our belongings to make it happen (if need be). After all, I believe that any child who wouldn't try the same is close to fitting the description of "worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
When I was a freshman in college, one of my professors showed a movie about this topic in a class meant to provoke a discussion in "critical thinking." The movie was entitled "GATTACA" and it dealt with the dispersion of medical (and even employment) resources by a future "big brother" society to people who are genetically predisposed to ailments. Unfortunately, it seems like this is the direction that society will eventually take. It makes me cringe, and then say with longing, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).