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Fading Out: Aging and Beyond RSS feed

Three cases for better management of dying

Three recent articles (by Michael Wolff, Joe Klein, and Sandra Tsing Loh) shed light on what it's like to be a caregiver for an elderly parent in today's U.S. health care system. Wolff's piece, A Life Worth Ending, searingly articulates the need for a support system that facilitates dying peacefully and without agony, instead of a system full of incentives for unnecessary medical interventions but not to support caregivers for those living out their final months or years at home. 'The era of medical miracles has created a new phase of aging, as far from living as it is from dying,' argues Wolff (New York Times Magazine, 5-20-12) . All of these stories support the need for a new look at incentives built into the Medicare system (created when people didn't live so long).

In Daddy Issues by Sandra Tsing Loh (Atlantic, March 2012--"Why caring for my aging father has me wishing he would die"), the author of Mother on Fire gives her wacky yet thoughtful take on a situation that, when she is not entertaining readers, must be terrifying, if only for expense--as her eccentric elderly father's caregiver begins needing care herself, for dementia, and her father insists they both live at home.

Joe Klein's piece for Time Magazine (The Long Goodbye, "How to Die" on Time's cover, 6-7-12--for subscribers only, or look for it in your library). Klein, medical decision-maker for his parents, who were dying of dementia, writes about the dramatic improvement in his parents' care when they were moved to a facility with no incentives for unnecessary interventions. "For five months, I was my parents' death panel. And where the costly chaos of Medicare failed, a team of salaried doctors and nurses offered a better way." Two companion articles are not behind the Time paywall:
Alternatives to the Nursing Home for Aging or Ailing Parents (by Alexandra Sifferlin, Time Healthland, 6-1-12
and
Five Tips for Families Facing End-of-Life Care by Alexandra Sifferlin (Time Healthland, 5-31-12)

FURTHER RESOURCES
(three books followed by pages of useful links)
A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents—and Ourselves by Jane Gross (Knopf)

Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence, by Gail Sheehy (Morrow). In this "sequel" to Passages, Sheehy describes the passages of caregiving as a labyrinth (weaving between these stages: Shock and Mobilization, the New Normal, Boomerang, Playing God, “I Can’t Do This Anymore!,” Coming Back, the In-Between Stage, and the Long Good-bye)

The Bill From My Father by Bernard Cooper (Simon & Schuster)

More books by, for, and about caregivers
More resources about caregiving
Complex and difficult endings
Helping a dying friend
Advance directives, living wills, Medicare, and other practical matters

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