Count no man happy till his end is known.  - Herodotus This was true in ancient Greece 2,500 years ago. It is even more true today -- aggressive end-of-life hospital care, the lack of sufficient palliative care, and unduly restrictive assisted suicide laws make it impossible for most people to die with dignity. There is no worse death than a hospital death. Dying well means dying at home. This requires preparation and preparation ...

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“Nobody does this …” Dr. D said as a greeting as he walked in holding the 700-word letter I had sent him some weeks before my periodic physical examination. Half the letter addressed six issues that had arisen during the year and a half since my last physical. I thought, nearing age 62, that it’d be both efficient and prudent to provide my GP an update on my health experiences. Half ...

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Americans are waking up to the fact that the $170 billion that Medicare spends on the last six months of life is not helping us die well. Instead, the way we die today tends to be protracted, undignified, and painful. Sarah Palin’s “death panel” debacle temporarily stifled all discussion on the subject, but the silence has been broken by dialogue inspired by the Institute of Medicine’s recent report, Dying in ...

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In India, when the first heavy droplets of rain meet dry earth it releases a particular kind of smell: a dampness arising from sizzling soil that in Bengal we call shnoda gondho. It is raining on the second day we go to visit my grandfather in the hospital. He has been readmitted to the hospital, after spending a week recovering at home from a hospitalization for rib fractures and bleeding into his ...

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One winter afternoon during my first year as a hospice volunteer, I drove slowly through the kind of neighborhood where the only people you see during the day are landscapers, contractors and housecleaning services and where one house is grander than the next. I was looking for the ranch house where Bobby had been living since his diagnosis. Most people I visit, as a hospice volunteer, are my senior by 20 ...

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Perhaps we thought we could get away with ignoring the relationship between doctors and patients. The Kaiser Health News article, "Efforts to Instill Empathy Among Doctors is Paying Dividends," explains why we can’t. Patient satisfaction scores and reimbursements aside, this relationship was once considered the cornerstone of quality care. Doctors are healers but in recent years many have been reduced to diagnosticians, electronic medical records (EMR) data entry clerks, and health ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. OA Patients Don't Face Higher Heart Disease Risk. Neither radiographic nor clinical osteoarthritis (OA) was related to a greater risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older patients.
  2. Senators to Providers, Industry: Lobby Harder on End-of-Life Care. A strong coalition is needed to transform care for the dying, said U.S. ...

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Eonia I Mnimi (Eternal Memory)  - Greek Orthodox Funeral Blessing “Have you ever seen anyone die before?” my cousin asked me, from across the bed. “Sure I have, plenty of times,” I answered. We were flanking her father, my uncle (really, my mother’s cousin, but extended Greek families are complicated; suffice it to say that our families are very close). He had just taken his last breath. *** My uncle had been declining for several years with 
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Ever heard of a doula? Doula is an ancient Greek word that translates as “woman who serves.” Specifically, it’s come to mean someone who serves as a birth attendant, a person trained in childbirth who acts in support of a birthing mother. A doula provides knowledge, comfort, and an extra pair of hands -- whether it’s to provide nourishment or massage, or help a mother find a comfortable position. As you may ...

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Thomas Hobbes described life as pitifully “nasty, brutish, and short.” Thanks to the free market and the state, life is no longer a Hobbesian nightmare. But death has become nasty, brutish, and long. Surgeon and writer, Atul Gawande, explores the medicalization of aging and death in Being Mortal. Gawande points to a glaring deficiency in medical education. Taught to save lives and fight death, doctors don’t bow out gracefully and say enough ...

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