Sunday, February 01, 2015
NY Times piece argues that end-of-life comfort care needs to improve drastically
An “Opinionator” column in the New York Times Sunday maintains “Dying shouldn’t be so brutal”, link here.
My father, who died on New Year’s Day 1986, of explosive prostate cancer, just before an 83rd birthday, had been ill only four weeks. He had been productive and able to do what he wanted almost until the very end, when he died suddenly during a "seizure". My mother had coronary bypass surgery at age 85 in 1999 and started decline in 2007, and spent the last four days in a virtual coma in hospice, passing away at 97 in December 2010.
But the measures available to alleviate discomfort were considerable. During the last hours or even days of life, sometimes the person cannot even swallow, but medications relieve that.
But one of the biggest problems is that we feel we must prolong life because now we can. When I was growing up in the 1950s, we couldn’t, and ignorance seems to have been bliss in retrospect.