The Will To Live: A Common Casualty of Old Age (2007)

Suicide is more common among older Americans than any other age group. The statistics are daunting. While people 65 and older account for 12 percent of the population, they represent 16 percent to 25 percent of the suicides. Four out of five suicides in older adults are men. And among white men over 85, the suicide rate — 50 per 100,000 men — is six times that of the general population. Yet, says Dr. Gary J. Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, “If you consider only major depression as the antecedent of elder suicide, you’ll miss 20 to 40 percent of cases in which there is no sign of mental illness.” Dr. Kennedy, who is also affiliated with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, recently directed a symposium in New York on preventing suicide in older adults, designed to alert both mental health and primary care practitioners to the often subtle signs that an older person may try to end it all. The Warning Signs In interviews, he and other symposium presenters noted that detecting suicidal impulses in older people often depended on the ability of family members and friends to recognize warning signs and act on them. According to Gregory K. Brown, a suicide specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, in studies of what preceded elder suicides, “suicide ideation” — the wish to die or thoughts of killing themselves — appears not to have been taken seriously. In 75 percent of cases, the suicide victims “had told family members or acquaintances of their intention to kill themselves,” Dr. Brown said. Dr. Kennedy put...

Protecting Yourself & Your Loved Ones

Most of us are not going to even consider euthanasia or physician assisted suicide! So, do we have any real concerns for our end of life care, or that of our parents and families? YES! There are two main concerns: making sure that your desires for the end of your life are known and respected by your family and your hospital, and that your life is not snuffed out in an untimely and unwanted manner. Having an appropriate, carefully drafted advance directive (of the right type) is the only way to be certain that the person you want to make decisions for you will have the authority to protect you. All of us may be “of sound mind” right now, but if we are in an accident, or have a stroke, we may not be capable of making our own decisions. About 40 states do allow the spouse or family members to make decisions, but if we happen to be in other states, even at the time we are incapacitated, we are under the rules of that state. Besides this, family members may not agree on how a person should be cared for at this time. Without having a carefully spelled out directive ahead of time, much heart-break may occur. What are some ways in which patients could be in danger? A major problem is that in most states, it is now imbedded in law that food and water are considered “medical treatment”. Most of us think of food and water as basic, necessary care, just like basic hygiene & warmth. Without food and water, no matter how strong...

End of Life Resources

  NOTE:  International Task Force has changed its name to Patients Rights Coalition   Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions: Protecting Yourself & Your Family by Rita L. Marker http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/euthanasia-assisted-suicide-health-care-decisions-toc/ International Task Force – Patients Rights Coalition http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org To obtain the Protective Medical Decisions Document (the ITF's durable power of attorney for health care), call 740-282-3810 or 800-958-5678, 8:30am – 4:30pm (eastern time). American Life League The Loving Will — Ethical Alternative to the "Living Will" http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10171&search=loving%20will National Right to Life The Will to Live http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/index.html         DVD on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide — Turning the Tide Turning the Tide, produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, was designed to change the way secular society perceives the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Secular society views the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide to be issues related to autonomy whereas Turning the Tide uses a personal story style to focus on the vulnerability of the person when one experiences disability, depression or symptoms related to degenerative and/or end of life conditions. The video also focuses on issues related to pain and symptom management and proper end-of-life care. Jean Echlin, winner of the Dorothy Lea award for excellence in palliative care in 2004 comments in Turning the Tide that: "I could never advocate for someone to suicide when I can offer them pain management and symptom management right where they are."   The Turning the Tide DVD package includes the DVD, the Discussion Guide, a recording sheet and all the resources that are necessary for making a presentation on euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Turning the Tide...

End Of Life Resources

Advance Directives are an important protection… End of life decisions can cause great anguish in families. In the current health care climate, it is important to be informed concerning all your options. No one is required by law to have an advance directive; do not let anyone pressure you into signing any type of advance directive. The following are offered as sources of information concerning advance directives:    Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions: Protecting Yourself & Your Family by Rita L. Marker http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/rpt2006_TOC.htm International Task Force Update http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/iua40.htm To obtain the Protective Medical Decisions Document (the ITF's durable power of attorney for health care), call 740-282-3810 or 800-958-5678, 8:30am – 4:30pm (eastern time). American Life League The Loving Will — Ethical Alternative to the "Living Will" http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10171&search=loving%20will National Right to Life The Will to Live http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/index.html     Lives considered by some to be "imperfect" and "burdensome" may not be here on earth for themselves, as much as they are here for us, the care-givers. As care-givers, we may actually be the ones who benefit from these lives, as we learn to care for others, and to put their welfare before our own. If people contemplate and really see the Sanctity of Life, their "quality of life" arguments fall away and they will understand that we are here to Care for each other, not to kill each other. Caring, and not convenience, is the sign of a civilized and just society… Preserving the original prolife hospice mission… Ron Panzer, Hospice Patients Alliance http://www.hospicepatients.org *************************************************** Here is a wonderful example of growing as human beings, of sacrificing for...

The Limited Wisdom of Advance Directives (PCB, 9/05)

Comment: Not surprisingly, the media has studiously ignored this report. This chapter is quite long; this is an excerpt. To read the entire chapter or report, please go to the URL. [N Valko R.N.] URL–   http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/taking_care/chapter2.html The President’s Council on BioethicsWashington, D.C.    September 2005 The Limited Wisdom of Advance DirectivesChapter 2 As the American population ages, the dilemmas and obligations of making caregiving decisions for incapacitated patients—including decisions about when to initiate, forgo, or cease potentially life-sustaining treatments—will only become more widespread and more acute. As we described in the previous chapter, more people will experience longer periods of dependence, including years of mental incapacitation. Deciding the best course of medical care during this extended period of debility will typically fall to surrogates—including family members and friends, health care professionals and social workers, and sometimes state guardians called upon to speak for those without proxies or courts called upon to adjudicate cases in which surrogates disagree. If we fail to think ahead about what we want done and what we owe to those who can no longer speak for themselves, we are more likely to make the necessary decisions in a state of excessive confusion and crisis. But if we plan ahead thoughtlessly or unwisely, we may in fact hamper efforts, when the time arrives, to provide the kind of care that we will then need and deserve. In the United States, our effort to think ahead about caregiving for incapacitated persons has taken shape mainly around the legal instrument of advance directives—both “instruction directives” that aim to dictate how one should be cared for and “proxy directives” that appoint...