Death Feed

Our culture has historically been devoted to cure illness at all costs, and death is often looked at as "failure," no matter the age or condition of the person being treated. Many other cultures readily accept death as part of the life cycle. I believe we, as a culture, are making progress in this direction, but death still tends to be a word people avoid. If it's up to you to inform a loved one that he or she would be more comfortable under hospice care – or that a person they love will be on hospice care – there are steps you can take to get you through this difficult transition. Read more →


Dear Carol: My dad has aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to his liver and bones. His oncologist isn’t very communicative and when I asked about hospice care he said that’s up to us. He told us that Dad won’t get better but that he can keep treating him if we want. The treatments make Dad miserable. If they won’t help, what’s the point? I feel strongly that Dad needs hospice care and have been trying to talk my mom into it but she’s dragging her feet. How do we go about getting the service? Which one do we choose? Will Mom have to go on Medicaid to get it paid for? This is her biggest fear. – ST Read more →


In my view, everyone over the age of 18 ought to have appropriate health care and financial documents that will assign a trusted person to speak for them should they, for whatever reason, be unable to speak for themselves. But most people wait until they’re well into middle age before taking care of this important legal work. For those who die young, or are disabled because of an unexpected event such as a car accident or ill-fated dive into an unfamiliar lake, it’s too late. Read more →


Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he’s having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it though, and dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. I think he kept up a front for Mom’s sake. Once she died, which was mid-month, he fell apart and had only marginally recovered before this year’s holidays approached. The family struggled through a low key Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with the New Year and mom’s death anniversary coming up, I’m afraid for Dad. Though he made an effort over Christmas for the grandchildren, he’s now become depressed and withdrawn. I know that suicide is an issue for older people. I don't think he's that bad, yet, but I’m scared. – FM Read more →


Death. For some, it signals the beginning of a more perfect life. For others, it is the end. Ultimately, for everyone, death is part of the life cycle and no amount of medical intervention will change that. Filmmaker Cathy Zheutlin became fascinated by the way that different cultures and religions view the death experience, and in the process, she has made a remarkable film titled Living While Dying, which features people who are going through that process and their varying emotions. Read more →


An ongoing concern for many older adults, as well as their adult children, is whether they really need to pay for the services of an attorney when planning for their finances and health care in old age. This is a valid question, and people of modest means often feel that they can’t afford an attorney. However, the reality is that many elder care problems faced by families can be avoided by consulting an attorney before their loved one needs any form of care. Read more →


While we like to think that most seniors have family members or at least lifelong friends to help them through their last years, many don’t. The term elder orphan is often used to describe these older Americans. While many have planned for this time in their lives by hiring attorneys to oversee the legal issues surrounding their potential need for care, others may not have been so wise. These seniors could be a prime target for a guardianship company that can swoop in and—legally—take over their lives, including their finances. Read more →


DEAR CAROL: My wife has had a stroke that’s left her mostly paralyzed on one side. She can’t speak well... Read more →


Dear Carol: My mother suffered a series of small strokes that contributed to increasing disability. Since I’m divorced with grown kids, I retired early and had mom move in with me. This worked for nearly five years before a massive stroke made it evident that I needed to move her to a nursing home. Mom lived there for less than six months before she died. Read more →


Long-term marriages generally evolve into a support system so efficient that even adult children hardly notice changes in their parents. If Dad's hearing is poor, Mom becomes his ears. If Mom's arthritis is bad, Dad becomes her muscle. If one of them has memory loss, the other fills in the gaps so smoothly that it's barely noticeable to onlookers. Read more →