Family Affairs: Do Your Kids a Favor

This is a guest post by Bart Astor. The other day I saw an ad with the headline, “Do your kids a favor.” It went on to say, “You checked for monsters under her bed, sent her to the best school, and helped her buy her first car. Now, do her one more favor.” That favor involves making plans in advance and communicating your wishes to your children. The ad, for a funeral home, takes a subject people don’t like …

A TED Talk on Preparing for the Inevitable

When the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference began in 1984, the Los Angeles Times called it “an obscure gathering of engineers, theorists and artists.” But in the nearly three decades since then, TED has morphed into a series of mind-expanding showcases staged in several countries that attract scores of celebrity visionaries, ranging from physicist Steven Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks to former President Bill Clinton and rock stars Bono and Peter Gabriel. Better yet, the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, which stages the …

Older, Homeless, No Family Caregiver – What Do They Do?

Get ready to see more older homeless men and women on the street. Since most don’t have families or are estranged from them, there’s no family caregiver. Here’s a TED talk that gives perspective on homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports there are 1.6 million homeless people a year on any given day. According to an NPR story, more than half of single homeless adults are age 47+. Younger boomers born between 1955-1965 are driving the aging …

Aggressive Care Still the Norm for Dying Older Patients

By Alvin Tran of Kaiser Health News Although federal data show that fewer Medicare beneficiaries are dying in hospitals, new research suggests that doesn’t mean they’re getting less aggressive care in their final days. Researchers at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University and others reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday that even as deaths in acute hospitals declined between 2000 and 2009, the use of intensive care units in the final 30 days …

Can We Talk? The Conversation Project

Dying may be taking a turn for the better. People, it seems, are beginning to talk about end-of-life issues before the end. Surveys show that 70% of people want to die at home, yet 70% die in hospitals or nursing homes. Who would want that to happen to them, their spouse, parent or friend? Or anyone? One person who certainly doesn’t is former syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman. Over the past two years, Goodman and others – clergy, physicians, journalists, caregivers, …

Palliative Care’s Healing Powers for Caregivers, Too

Five months ago, my 91-year-old mother suffered a massive stroke and spent six days in the palliative care unit of a Connecticut hospital. The specially trained physician, nurse, social worker, and pastoral counselor kept her pain-free until she died. What they did for me was equally remarkable: they nursed me, the emotionally and physically exhausted caregiver, through what felt like a slow motion death. Their kindness allowed me to heal more quickly than I believe I would have without palliative …