How to Talk About Death … and Life

Many Americans, it seems, have a hard time talking about death. Even doctors struggle to deal with the mortality of patients who they know aren’t going to make it. That’s the focus of Being Mortal: Conversations of Death and Dying, Atul Gawande’s adaptation of his bestselling book to a Frontline segment that begins airing Feb. 10 on PBS platforms. A surgeon and writer, Gawande chalks up doctors’ fears to their sense of professional competence. In gaining experience, “Among the most …

Older Adults and People With Disabilities Want Choice and Control

We all like to have choices. Being able to decide where we live and work, what we eat and how we spend our leisure time all enhance life satisfaction. Having a disability doesn’t diminish the desire for choice. But unfortunately, people with disabilities often lose control over how services are provided when they depend on Medicaid for home- and community-based services (HCBS), such as meal preparation or help with bathing and dressing. It doesn’t have to be this way. Participant-directed …

Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin Voter ID Law

The Supreme Court has blocked the implementation of a Wisconsin voter ID law that triggered an intense legal battle and conflicting court rulings. In an unusual late-evening action on Oct. 9, the court issued an unsigned, two-paragraph decision — the first paragraph being the ruling of the six-justice majority and the second a dissent from Justice Samuel Alito. The decision set aside the Sept. 12 ruling of a federal appeals court that had blocked a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing enforcement of …

Opinion: Why One 85-Year-Old Opposes a New Voter ID Law

By Ruthelle Frank In October 2011, an article appeared in my local paper reporting that, in order to vote in the next election, everyone was going to need a state-issued identity card for the first time. At 85 years old, I didn’t have one, because I’m handicapped and so I never drove a car or needed an ID. The newspaper said that I’d have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and register for a card, and it …

How the Pope Celebrated Older People Around the World

[View the story “Pope Francis Celebrates Wisdom of Elderly” on Storify]   Storify summary: With some 40,000 people gathered Sept. 28 in Vatican City to honor grandparents and the elderly, Pope Francis started with his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who made a rare public appearance. Benedict, 87, still lives at the Vatican, and Francis, 77, emphasized that Benedict’s wisdom and experience have been invaluable, like having a “wise grandparent” at home. Also of Interest Who You Callin’ Grandma? Cool …

States’ Role in Limiting Inappropriate Use of Antipsychotic Meds in Nursing Homes

As nursing homes have moved away from using physical restraints, there is evidence that some institutions are substituting antipsychotic medications to sedate residents with behavior problems. Why is this a dangerous and inappropriate practice? Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs by nursing homes exposes elderly vulnerable people to increased risk of falls, delirium, stroke and death. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general testified before the Senate Aging Committee that antipsychotic drugs were being prescribed in “violation of …