Death with Dignity vs. Assisted Suicide




As a Massachusetts residence, death with dignity or assisted suicide was something that I was personally able to vote on this past election cycle. Although it is not a topic exclusive to the older members of our society, the opposing sides targeted the elderly as their primary audience. While this is not a new debate in the public arena it is one that seems to be evolving. “Question 2” (Massachusetts ballot measure legalizing Dr. assisted death) didn’t pass in Massachusetts with a margin of 49% to 51%. At first the narrowness of defeat seemed shocking to me, but further examination on what has been done by the proponents of Question 2 indicate they are making serious headwind in the public square. And in a state that is very supportive of the right to make personal decisions (i.e. same sex marriage) I am now surprised it did not pass.

My questions?

How do you justify the right to take the life of an unborn fetus with different genetic make up than the mother but don’t allow people the regulated legal right to take their own life in cases of poor health?

How does the doctors oath of “Do no harm” factor into their role in the process? The psychological ramifications?

What do statistics say about the accuracy of medical prognoses (how much time is left to live) made by professionals (MD’s) in terminally ill patients?

I could go on and on and participated in many debates on the ethical dilemma during nursing school. But I’d like to hear what you think? Do you view it as death with dignity or assisted suicide?





Steve Jobs: Lessons for long-term care?

Click on the image below for the rest of the story …

Nursing Home News Roundup – March 2012

For-Profit vs. Non-Profit Nursing Homes

Those of us who love old people either work in or know people who work in nursing homes.  Or, we have had loved ones in facilities.  There are strong feelings both ways.  Non-profit operators claim to give the best care because of their mission-driven attitude, unencumbered by financial demands.  For-profit operators claim to give the best care because they’re the ones providing the highest acuity and re-investing profits into facilities.

Here’s an article that shows how this argument is moot and that the two types of operators are a lot more alike than they realize … [click on the image below]

Transforming Long-term Care Blog

Transforming Long-term Care Blog

In the end, as you search out a long-term care facility either for placement of a loved one or for your own career, you need to find one that is, like the author of the article states, ‘built to last.’


As we prepare for the new year and for new year’s resolutions, I thought we ought to re-post this article about a lady who truly fires me up!  I know it’s dangerous to say it, but, ‘if she can do it …’

Ironman at 73!

From the article:

In 1982, Shapiro watched television as athlete Julie Moss crawled across the Ironman finish line in Hawaii. Like thousands of others, Shapiro was galvanized. Anybody can ride a bike, she figured. And she already knew how to swim.

“I’m going to do a triathlon,” she promised herself.

Since that day, Shapiro has won eight Ironman races in her age group, come in second three times in her age group in the world championships and won the half-Ironman world championships twice.

“My habits and my lifestyle and who I am are because of Ironman,” Shapiro told me, her taut frame atop a chrome chair with rainbow splashes on its cushions.

Along the way, she also suffered three serious crashes, one which required her being helicoptered to a hospital.

“You fall off the horse, you get back on,” she said.

“There are no short cuts to Ironman,” Shapiro explained. “Training is not easy. You have to have a passion.”

Some may think someone like Shapiro never has a bad day, always feels like cycling, running or swimming. Not so.

“Training is not easy,” she repeated.

If it sounds like Shapiro was talking about life, you would be correct.

“A sign of maturity is delayed gratification. It’s the essence of life.”

After missing some cutoff times in several Ironman races over the years, does she see another world championship in her future?

“This year, I’m ready,” Shapiro said, smiling and clenching her fists with excitement. “I’m ready.”

Like all of us, Shapiro wasn’t born ready. She worked to get there.

Read the rest of the story here.

Still Alice

As I was recently driving through Boston/Harvard, I remembered scenes from the book Still Alice.  If you love old people, you’ve got to read this book.

It’s the best book I’ve ever found that brings the layman (like me) into the complicated realm of Alzheimer’s.

The book tells the tale, in a novel format, of a Harvard professor with early onset Alzheimer’s through HER eyes.  And, I suppose seeing it through the professor’s eyes is what makes the book so compelling.

The other day I ate a vegetarian meal.  A couple hours later, I was trying to recall every item on the plate. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the word ‘Asparagus.’  Instead of shrugging it off and moving on to something else mentally, I dug in and tried with all my mind to recall the word.  No luck.  I thought of this book.  I worried.  I could visualize the vegetable.  I could smell it.  But, I could not name it.  10 minutes later, I gave up.  What explains that?  I don’t know.  Could it be a ridiculously early hint of things to come decades from now.

I truly hope not.  I can’t think of a more tragic disease.  I lost my father to cancer (he was way too young).  I lost my friend to a car accident.  And while there’s nothing to gain by ranking the level of bad of bad things, Alzheimer’s ranks up there.  When your mother looks at you blankly and has NO IDEA who you are and the disease will lead to her death too … ? … brutal.

Read the book.  Get involved.