Taking responsibility for death
March 31, 2012 2 Comments
Susan Jacoby has a nice piece in the NY Times recounting the story of how her mother faced her death–clear eyed and asking questions about what medical treatments could realistically provide for her, and then making decisions based on her preferences. This is a good story to emulate.
It will be hard to revolutionize our cost problem by focusing on the issue of spending near death alone, in part because it is not clear when the last year of life started until it ends, and in part because our culture goes vaguely insane with charges of death panels, etc. Instead, we need need to more comprehensively ask three questions: will this improve my quality of life? will it extend my life? how much does it cost?
The asking of these questions will likely be the most consequential in terms of cost near the end of life, but we need to learn to ask them all the time as a matter of course if we are to become comfortable with them as a loved one is dying.