Take An Active Role In Your Health Care

by Linda

I recently read a book entitled "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande and I was so impressed by the author's candid views on health care that I would like to encourage everyone to read this book.

Your final days leading to your passing is a difficult topic for both you and your loved ones but this book will give you a compassionate and realistic perspective on this subject.

After reading this book, I feel empowered on how to voice my wishes about how I want to spend the final stage of my life. The author points out that doctors are trained to "fix" medical problems but because we are mortal we need to realize that our lives will end and it is our right to refuse endless procedures, surgeries and treatments that diminish our quality of life.

Dr. Gawande strongly believes in hospice care because it allows patients to live out their final days as comfortably as possible. As a patient, you must make your wishes known to your doctor and your family.

It is your right to refuse treatments that will only prolong your illness even though it is inevitable that your passing is near.

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Taking an Active role
by: AMV/MO

Hi Linda,

Thanks for the book mention! I am 75 and retired, and have been reading this book for a couple of weeks now. I am deliberately slow in my reading, as that helps me to fully understand and fix the ideas permanently in my mind. I am about half way through and hope to finish in another week or two!

The chapter that has made a deep impact in my life is the one that describes the Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen's "socioemotional selective theory". She explains that the shift in our everyday interests as we grow old depends not on age, but on our perception of life remaining.

When we are young, the horizon of life is measured in decades that might as well appear to be infinity, and our priorities are on achievement, professional growth and acquiring wealth. But when we get to old age, we see our future ahead as finite and uncertain; and our focus shifts to everyday pleasures, and people closest to us.

This made perfect sense to me, and I have decided to banish my depressive thoughts and start focusing on everyday pleasures which there is no dearth of! I have also started increasing my interaction with folks in the community where I live.

As you said, it is a great book, and I would encourage all retirees to read it, and also encourage your adult children to read it so they understand how their parents feel and how best to take care of them when the time comes.

Taking an Active role
by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

Dear Linda: What you are suggesting is so important but is often ignored.

However, I am surprised if a doctor does not tell the patient and family when to call for hospice care.

The oncologist told us to contact Hospice when my husband stopped wanting to eat, and fell down when he was walking. Hospice came and eventually set up a bed in our living room.

The Hospice people were wonderful and Jack was able to stay in his own home which he loved.

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