At first, Dr. Robert Zorowitz thought his 83-year-old mother was confused. She couldn’t remember passwords to accounts on her computer. She would call and say programs had stopped working. But over time, Zorowitz realized his mother — a highly intelligent woman who was comfortable with technology ― was showing early signs of dementia. Increasingly, families will encounter similar concerns as older adults become reliant on computers, cellphones, and tablets: With cognitive impairment, ...

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A month ago, during a visit to her doctor’s office in Sequim, Wash., Sue Christensen fell to her knees in the bathroom when her legs suddenly gave out. The 74-year-old was in an accessible stall with her walker, an older model that doesn’t have brakes. On her left side was a grab bar; there was nothing to hold onto on the right. Christensen tried to pull herself up but couldn’t. With difficulty, ...

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The decision seemed straightforward. Bob McHenry’s heart was failing, and doctors recommended two high-risk surgeries to restore blood flow. Without the procedures, McHenry, 82, would die. The surgeon at a Boston teaching hospital ticked off the possible complications. Karen McHenry, the patient’s daughter, remembers feeling there was no choice but to say “go ahead.” It’s a scene she’s replayed in her mind hundreds of times since, with regret. On the operating table, Bob ...

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Dr. Hasan Shanawani was overcome by frustration. So, last week he picked up his cellphone and began sharing on Twitter his family’s enraging experiences with the U.S. health care system. It was an act of defiance — and desperation. Like millions of people who are sick or old and the families who care for them, this physician was disheartened by the health care system’s complexity and its all-too-frequent absence of caring ...

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