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A Good Death

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Today in full public view, we saw the face of evil in the Boston Marathon bombings.   

Some person or group of people decided it would be a good idea to try to kill and hurt as many people as possible from the very old to the very young.  These deaths are bad deaths, evil deaths, senseless deaths.   I am in tears for the dead and injured.  My heart goes out to those who are injured and the loved ones of the injured and dead.  As I was curating news articles for tomorrow’s Senior Housing Forum blog, I came across this article at the The New York Times, Sunday Review titled A Good Death which is a gentle look at the dying process and reminded me that while there are too frequently bad deaths such as those we saw today and often times those bad deaths can’t be avoided, those of us who work with seniors have the ability in our little part of the world, help seniors have a good death or at least a better death.  

Some Practical Suggestions

  1. We need to be talking to residents and family members about end of life decisions.
  2.  We need to give family members guiltless permission to execute “Do Not Resuscitate” documents.  This may mean having frank discussions about what life after CPR on seniors is like.
  3. We have an obligation to support and educate families about physician’s proclivity to do everything possible to extend life, when often those treatments do nothing to improve senior’s quality of life and in fact may result in more pain and a lower quality of life in those last few weeks.
  4. We need to work with families, hospice and healthcare providers to mitigate pain.

  Finally as we look at bad deaths and good deaths, we need to hug those we love and tell them how much we love them.  We need to hug our residents and our fellow workers.  We need to celebrate our God given lives and make the very best of them.   Feel free to share your thoughts about any of this here.   With a heavy heart Steve Moran

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