Elder Care

This article on CNN discusses when should we stop prolonging the care of the elderly when their quality of life is not truly sustainable.

A recent study by Dr. Alvin C. Kwok and his colleagues finds that surgery is common in the last year, month and week of life. Eighty-year-olds had a 35% chance of going under the knife in the last year of their lives; nearly one out of five Medicare recipients had surgery in their last month and one in 10 in their last week.

Nobody doubts that some of these surgeries were necessary. But major medical and ethical figures argue that they reflect our reluctance to accept death or let go, the surgeons’ activist interventionist orientation and the way the incentives are aligned.

Touchy issue but I will share my story:

My dad passed away this year a day after his birthday. He was diabetic and had succient strokes a few days prior.  He passed away at the VA Hospice in Chicago.  His last few years of life were painful.  Unfortunately he made the wrong choices while living. Smoked since he was 13 and ate what he wanted…took his insulin when he remembered.

Mom was the one who ended up as his full time caregiver.  For someone whose first language is not English I applaud her for remembering and correctly pronouncing the litnay of drugs dad had to take.

Sometimes we have to really look at ourselves, our lifestyles and see that we cannot be so selfish as to DO whatever we want and then expect our family members to pick up after our careless lifestyle. Take some responsibility for your life decisions. Remember there are people who love you and suffer right along with you when you don’t take control of your life.

Dad and I at VA Hospice January 2011


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