life of Jack Kevorkian. Jack Kevorkian, dubbed "Dr. Death" by the press, is a famous Michigan physician who is a champion of Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS). He claims to have personally assisted in the suicide deaths of 130 terminally ill patients, and he is an activist for legalizing euthanasia for terminally ill patients. At the age of 80, Kevorkian still speaks on the subject around the nation and works to promote the passage of euthanasia bills in states and Congress.
More Resistant to Change?
As Dr. Kevorkian's life clearly indicates, older adults are not more rigid and resistant to change. That is a myth that should be quickly dispelled. Kevorkian, born in 1928, is a champion of radical social change, something he has been working on since 1990, when he first assisted a terminally ill patient in taking their own life. He believes in PAS because it is more humane than allowing a patient with no hope of living to suffer pain and debilitation in the final days and months of their lives. He was a practicing physician in Michigan from the time of his graduation from medical school in 1952, until 1991 when the state disbarred him. Clearly, this lead to a great change in his life, which he managed seamlessly. He then began a crusade to educate people about PAS, something he has done ever since then with a passion.
In addition, between 1999 and 2007, he served over eight years in prison after his conviction in assisted suicides. Here was another great change in lifestyle and conditions, and yet, he survived to gain an early release for good behavior. While on probation, he cannot assist in any patient suicides, but he still works tirelessly for his cause, speaking at colleges and on radio shows around the nation. Dr. Kevorkian could be the poster child for the aging community, illustrating that even at age 80; he has survived great changes in his life and still strongly believes in his convictions. Another aspect of his ability to change is that he is not so engaged in his work for PAS that he blocks out other interests and opportunities in his life. He is also an accomplished musician and painter, which indicates he has broad interests and concerns, and is able to switch gears from activist to retired physician with ease.
Kevorkian Dispels Myths
Dr. Kevorkian dispels the myth that aging brings a decline in intellect and the ability to learn. Kevorkian actually first began writing about PAS in the 1980s, when he was in his sixties, indicating directly the opposite, he continued learning and changing his opinions throughout his life. He went public with his information in the 1990s, and received healthy media coverage for his cause. A reporter notes, "Kevorkian initially made national headlines on 4 June 1990, after he used a drug-dispensing device to assist in the suicide of Janet Adkins, a fifty-four-year-old Oregon woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's" (Atwood Gailey, 2003, p. 85). Michigan disbarred him from medical practice in 1991, when he was 63, forcing him to find a new avenue for his PAS machinery and mechanisms, indicating his willingness to find new ways of gaining rights for terminally ill patients. It shows his ability to learn and change, and that his intellect had no signs of slowing down. Instead, he became more active for a cause he believed in, learning how to publicize himself extremely effectively. The reporter continues, "[W]hat is most remarkable about Kevorkian's rise to media prominence is the speed with which he and PAS-related stories supplanted discourse on passive euthanasia" (Atwood Gailey, 2003, p. 88). Clearly, this was not something he had worked with in his medical practice, which traditionally does not seek advertising, or did not at the time, so he had to learn how to promote himself effectively, something he obviously began to excel at as he attracted nationwide attention and press coverage. Another writer notes, "Indeed, in 1999 Dr. Kevorkian performed an act of euthanasia for a nationwide television audience on '60 Minutes,' with the express desire of provoking debate over legalizing that practice too" (Gorsuch, 2000, p. 599). Again, this demonstrates his ability to manipulate the media, learned from excelling at it for nearly 10 years.
Another myth he dispels is that older people are not as effective as younger workers are. This is clearly not the case in Kevorkian's life, because his notoriety and "fame" came essentially after…