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Plain Speaking at the End of Life

Dr. Stephen Workman, an internist at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, takes exception to the language physicians use with patients near the end of life. In one of his recent publications, he called language the most important tool health professionals have to improve the care of dying patients. I(…)

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The Clipper Makes Her Rounds

“You’d be amazed at what people walk around with,” said Serena Merrill. Ms. Merrill should know. Since 2008, she has been a foot care nurse for the elderly in and around West Stockbridge, Mass., and she has seen feet with every kind of problem you can imagine — and quite a few you’d probably rather(…)

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Administration Proposes Wage Protections for Home Care Workers

Andrew Councill for The New York TimesIn 2007, the Supreme Court found that Evelyn Coke, above, was not entitled to overtime pay as a health care aide. The Times reports on Friday that the Obama administration has proposed regulations that would provide the nation’s two million home care workers with minimum wage and overtime protections.(…)

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Mad as Hell

PhotofestThe actor Peter Finch as Howard Beale, a network news anchor who becomes unhinged in the 1976 movie “Network.” Ellen Goodman, the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning former columnist, now retired, is busy these days with something called the Conversation Project, one of many nascent efforts to make the rigors of caregiving and advanced old age(…)

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Two Gifts

Gift-giving can be tricky for older people and their caregivers. The seniors often don’t need more Stuff — they have enough pajamas, dusting powder and flannel shirts to last a literal lifetime. When my dad left his apartment to move to an independent living facility near my sister and me, we found shirts and sweaters(…)

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For the Parents, Simple Pleasures

Eric Anthony Johnson/Getty Images Like a lot of dutiful adult sons and daughters, my friend Margaret braved the airport this week. She and her family are spending Christmas with her elderly parents in South Carolina. She’s vowing that this five-day visit will be different from her last trip south, in October. She wants to take(…)

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The Unspoken Diagnosis: Old Age

Dr. Alexander K. Smith is a brave man. It has taken physicians a very long time to accept the need to level with patients and their families when they have terminal illnesses and death is near — and we know that many times those kinds of honest, exploratory conversations still don’t take place. Now Dr.(…)

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When Doctors Face Death

A telling essay about the way doctors choose to die, as opposed to the way most of their patients will, appeared on a Web site called Zocalo Public Square last month and has been ricocheting around the Internet ever since — to its author’s astonishment. Steve FuhrmanDr. Ken Murray I first saw the essay, “How(…)

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More on the Nursing Home Exodus

The intensifying federal effort to move people out of nursing homes and into the community has brought both consternation and applause among readers here. On the one hand, some family members clearly dread the new requirement that residents be asked, once each quarter (unless they opt to hear the question annually instead), whether they’d like(…)

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