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View Diary: Why End of Life Counseling is Imperative (256 comments)

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  •  My mother died in a nursing home... (3+ / 0-)
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    elfling, sockpuppet, Patricia Bruner

    My wife and most of my friends have had to deal with the final years and end stage illness.

    I remember sitting around one Christmas nursing brandy in front of a fireplace, musing over how they wrote much better insurance back in the 1950s than they have been recently.  

    The WWII generation mostly also worked in a different world, where pensions came with good insurance on top of what they had from a long time ago.  

    Every time someone began a decline at great age, the subject of the DNR, the Do Not Rescuscitate order came up.  The sheet of paper needing signature represents a difficult and terrible decision, even under the best of circumstances.  

    When you get into the details, you realize that when we get elderly, we get pretty fragile.  A medical procedure to revitalize a failing heart can break a lot of ribs and maybe puncture a lung in the process.  Then, there is the question of what the quality of life will be following rescuscitation.  

    No one can prescribe what is the best way to think about this.  

    But, everyone should be aware of the parameters.  It isn't at all unreasonable to bring doctors and patients into honest discussion about what the language being used to describe options means.  

    If you go into a hospice and talk to the people there, this is all just common sense.  People die.  That is a fact of life.  The question is whether it is with dignity and intelligent forethought that makes the situation better, or whether it is with some prohibition against communication that causes the last stage of life to be a total panic.

    In that respect, I think the hysteria being caused around this issue is cruel.  

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