End of Life Issues

New Data to Consider in D.N.R. Decisions

Every year in the United States, about 100,000 hospital patients age 65 and older experience what is known in medical parlance as Code Blue. Their hearts stop, and a medical team is summoned to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Depending on the underlying medical problem, some patients will receive an electrical shock to the(…)

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For a Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call

Courtesy of the Brenner family Paul Brenner, who died last month, became a hospice director in New York City in his 50s. Family, friends, colleagues and parishioners said goodbye to Paul Brenner on Monday. He served as the associate pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco, where his funeral service was held. Mr.(…)

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The Executor’s Assistant

I’m serving as executor for my father’s estate, a role few of us are prepared for until we’re playing it, so I was grateful when the mail brought “The American Bar Association Guide to Wills and Estates” — the fourth edition of a handbook the A.B.A. began publishing in 1995. This is a legal universe,(…)

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Preparing for a Loved One to Die at Home

David Walter Banks for The New York Times A few key pieces of equipment that can make life easier and safer for the patient may be required in the bathroom. Most of us, when asked about how and where we want to die, answer simply “at home.” Making that happen is not always as simple(…)

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Help for Planning End-of-Life Care

If your 2013 resolution is to get your family to embark, finally, on advance care planning, you will find a valuable guide in a new Web site called Prepare. Dr. Rebecca Sudore, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, has spent several years developing Prepare, and in that time, “the tide in advance(…)

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Murray Span, 1922-2012

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times Paula Span with her father, Murray Span, in 2011. One consequence of our elders’ extended lifespans is that we half expect them to keep chugging along forever. My father, a busy yoga practitioner and blackjack player, celebrated his 90th birthday in September in reasonably good health. So when I had(…)

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On the Way to Hospice, Surprising Hurdles

iStock I’ve often wondered why more families don’t call hospice when a loved one has a terminal disease — and why people who do call wait so long, often until death is just days away. Even though more than 40 percent of American deaths now involve hospice care, many families still are trying to shoulder(…)

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How the ‘Death With Dignity’ Initiative Failed in Massachusetts

Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide In an ad run by the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, an actor playing a pharmacist criticized Massachusetts’ Death With Dignity law. The proposal was defeated last month. On election night, Jim Carberry and others who had worked to put a “Death With Dignity” law on the Massachusetts ballot gathered(…)

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Forced to Choose: Exploring Other Options

Ruby Washington/The New York Times I wrote last week about the poor choices facing patients, most very old and within six months of death, who need nursing home care after a hospitalization. Medicare will pay for hospice, the acknowledged gold standard for those at the end of life and their families, and it will also(…)

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Forced to Choose: Nursing Home vs. Hospice

An older person, someone who will die within six months, leaves a hospital. Where does she go? Almost a third of the time, according to a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, records show she takes advantage of Medicare’s skilled-nursing facility benefit and enters a nursing home. But is that the best(…)

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