Courtesy of the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/26/health/lessons-on-end-of-life-care-from-a-sisters-death.html?ref=topics&_r=0
Photo by Juliette Borda

26span-blog427The health care professionals entering my sister’s hospital room, or answering my questions in the corridor, had perfected a polite method of ascertaining whether I was entitled to information about her condition.

Nobody demanded, “Who the heck are you, and will I get canned for a Hipaa violation if I talk to you?” Nurses and physicians who hadn’t met me just asked, “Are you family?”

“I’m her sister and her health care proxy,” I would say. That was sufficient; we went on to discuss test results or her morphine dose.

The New Old Age, a blog for six years and now a twice-monthly column, has often considered end-of-life care. It is inescapably part of the conversation about aging and caregiving, though lots of seniors, families and professionals prefer to avoid the
subject as long as possible.

But as with almost anything, one discovers at least as much from personal experience as from interviewing experts and reading studies.

My sister Debra was the third family member I have accompanied, with as much dignity and comfort as we could arrange, through her last days.

She was 62 when she died last month of a progressive neurological disease in a New Jersey hospital. I thought I would pass along some personal lessons.  Continue Reading “Lesson on End-of-Life”