Whether due to changes in the economy or the fact that people are now living longer than ever before, there's no denying that the reality of growing older in America is expensive and most people are unprepared to take on the financial burden.
It's just as important for patients to control the way they die as the way they live. Physicians have a golden opportunity to do their part by helping patients and families navigate the final leg of life's journey. All they need to do is take the time to have the conversation.
My family had given me so much, and I didn't want to leave them without giving them something in return. But the only thing of real value I could give away were the emotions I felt for the people who would read my letter after I was gone. I would leave them with a message of undying love.
Aggressive plans to legalize death with dignity are underway in several other states. Most supporters -- this writer included -- believe it will only take a few more until the movement for compassion, autonomy and justice at life's end becomes a right to everyone in the U.S.
Congress honored palliative care for terminally ill patients at the behest of American citizens, thus enabling Medicare and Medicaid funding. The higher, humanistic calling of hospice must not be regulated or prosecuted out of existence.
My pastor recently suggested that I get informed on my elderly parents' financial situation and end-of-life plans so I can be better prepared when something happens to them. What's the best way to handle this and what all do I need to find out?
My father has only been truly old, as defined by his health and functioning, for perhaps five years, yet he was young and vigorous for decades before that. It takes time for perception to catch up with reality, but I'm not sure it ever does.
Advanced illness is unfortunately an aspect of life. While our culture no longer whispers the name of serious conditions such as cancer, we far too often go silent on the subject of dealing with a disease that is likely to take the life of someone we love.
This study is evidence of what can go wrong when doctors, patients and families fail to have frank and open communication about end-of-life care. It is also, in the clarion call of its conclusion, "a first step toward refocusing care on treatments that are more likely to benefit patients."
We don't always have the luxury of being able to manage our death, but there are options other than aggressive treatment that may be more appropriate for us -- depending on whether quality of life or quantity of life is more important to us.
How sad to live in a lie at the end of one's life. How sad to risk regrets, not realizing the blessings that come with the alternative -- a depth of intimacy that we may never have experienced before and that will never be available again.
As we read letter after letter we are allowed to see more and more clearly into the heart and soul of this man, whose approaching death is revealing to him, with more and more clarity, the beauty and preciousness of life.
Death panels and Dr. Kevorkian suck the oxygen out of end of life discussions. In a way, framing death and dying in sweeping abstractions like "right to die" and "rationing life" is an easy way to avoid the subject. But bad end-of-life decisions plague the hospital setting.