I left a full-time academic position five years ago because I was literally, “check-all-the-boxes,” burned out. In looking back during that time prior to my decision to leave, I recall months of feeling overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, depressed, and in a sense grieved for the loss of what I envisioned my career path to be until retirement. It was not until one of my favorite patients, Mr. Young, who knew me ...

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"Let's start the powwow," a man with a brown jacket and braided ponytail said with a smile. Nineteen adults and one child filled the back conference room of the hospital. The hospital had made an industrial cylinder of coffee for the meeting, and it was almost completely drained. I hung the stethoscope around my neck, knowing I wouldn't use it as anything but a prop to signify my training and ...

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Society gives short shrift to older age. This distinct phase of life doesn’t get the same attention that’s devoted to childhood. And the special characteristics of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond are poorly understood. Medicine reflects this narrow-mindedness. In medical school, physicians learn that people in the prime of life are “normal” and scant time is spent studying aging. In practice, doctors too often fail to appreciate older ...

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A recent New York Times article described a 77-year-old retired gardener in England who had not spoken with another human being in more than six weeks. He told the reporter through tears that he felt "very lonely, and bored." Recent budget cuts prevented him from taking the bus to the grocery store. Younger people, including his own son, had left town for better jobs in larger cities. I see this loneliness ...

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If you’re sexy, fit and nimble, if you can part your thighs and bend your knees, if you can see your private parts without a mirror, ignore this. Move on. This is not for you. This is for those with flailing sex-drive and failing abilities whose sex life is a challenge, but they’d like to make their partners happy and have some fun. Maybe your parents or grandparents. This must be an ...

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Medicare wants doctors to get patients on their computers. Doctors are required to set up computer portals to communicate with patients. These portals use two-factor identification and presume substantial computer literacy from patients in their late 70s or 80s. Yet, there are limits. For many geriatric patients, a cell phone means a feature phone with gigantic numbers. If they have a computer, it ...

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This is the scenario. You (or your mother) were admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. On the third day a cheery continuing care nurse comes in and says, “You don’t have a fever, and the doctors feel you can be discharged to finish your course of antibiotics, but your nurse tells me you are still too weak to go home, so we are going to send you to rehab. Here ...

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An excerpt from How To Be A Merry Widow - Life after Death for the Older Lady. You are like an animal cut off from the herd; people are social beings and need to be with others. The very word ‘"solitary" brings fear even to the most hardened criminal. ...

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I dedicate this to each of you who have cared for or are currently caring for an ill parent or family member.  Recently, due to the stress that several of my dearest friends have been experiencing in caring for their elderly parents, I am even more appreciative and respectful of my privilege in caring for elderly patients who have attentive and loving adult children who accompany them to our ER. Although this ...

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One of the major challenges of being on medical school rotations is the necessity of changing rotations every four weeks, and how adapting to each new specialty feels like going through the first day of school all over again. I want to share my experience on other side of the coin. About a year ago, I started participating in Stanford’s Continuity of Care program, a clerkship in which I am excused from ...

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