“A life Worth Ending ” by Michael Wolff

In New York Magazine, Michael Wolff describes, in an open and frank manner, the painful ordeal his family is going through in taking care of their elderly mother who is bed ridden and has Dementia. Many baby boomers are headed towards sunset, and this article is worth reading to prepare for that journey and  ease the burden on children of making painful decisions by preparing a Living Will and Health Care Proxy.

He writes:

“The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die. Part of the advance in life expectancy is that we have technologically inhibited the ultimate event. We have fought natural causes to almost a draw. If you eliminate smokers, drinkers, other substance abusers, the obese, and the fatally ill, you are left with a rapidly growing demographic segment peculiarly resistant to death’s appointment—though far, far, far from healthy.”

To read the full Article, please click on the link below!



3 thoughts on ““A life Worth Ending ” by Michael Wolff

  1. I suppose the opinions on euthanasia vary depending on the family history of individuals and how they wish to prolong their lives even when they become physically dependent on other care-givers. In my opinion, and I intend to do it, is to make a living Will specifying when to pull the plug on my sick and suffering life of total physical dependency. If I am terminally unable to feed and clean my self, due to loss of my faculties, I should be put to sleep without giving it a second thought. The living Will will be known to all my loved ones who must commit to honor my wishes when the time comes. I have no idea about the legal aspects of such a Will, but I intend to find out to make it fool-proof.

  2. I am against euthanasia, and I think one does need to go that far if available legal tools are exercised properly. Michael Wolf’s story has a common dilemma which many families face because of following reasons;
    1- Families/ Health care proxy agent do not follow the Living Will when they make a decision.They forget that that they should make a decision according to the wishes and believes of the loved one and not according to their own personal wishes, believes and principals. It is a difficult and painful job, and many shy away from making the right decision according to the wishes of the loved one due to personal guilt.
    2- Families / Health care proxy agent do not stick to a decision and waver between ‘keep comfortable’ to do ‘everything possible’.
    3. Once a decision is made to keep comfortable and no heroic measures to keep alive, then Families/Health care proxy agent can sign Do Not Resuscitation papers, refuse hospitalizations and all medications except necessary for pain and comfort. Not availing these options will prolong the suffering.
    4- The Doctor should administer the pain and other medications necessary for the pain and comfort without worrying about the side effects. The Goal is to deliver these medications in enough dosage to relieve pain and suffering and no other
    purpose. If a physician does not agree to this philosophy, he/she should be changed.

    Unfortunately all of the above factors seems to play a role in Michael Wolff’s sad story.


  3. Thank you for writing your article, Michael. Having cared for my mother the past 6 years in my home, I could relate to a lot of the thoughts you wrote about. Prolonging life is a sensitive issue. There are people who don’t agree with the concept of euthanasia and I understand that. I think if they experienced years of suffering with someone, they might change their mind – even with all papers in order and the patient’s wishes understood.
    During these past 6 years, we experienced many different facilities, including hospice 4 times. 4 times that the doctors were sure she’d only live 6 months. 4 times that she was “certainly dying but not promptly dying.” The doctors don’t really know and make educated guesses only which keeps we caregivers on quite and emotional a roller coaster.
    At 91, my mother couldn’t see and couldn’t walk. She had lost the ability to do things for herself. Her mind was still clear enough to know all this and to dread each day. She passed away several months ago.
    We’re never taught how to be good caregivers for our parents if we need to be. We make decisions we can only hope are good ones, and guilt seems to come with the territory.
    I’m sorry you’re in the position to be writing about your mom, but thank you for sharing your thoughts because there are probably many of us who have been or will be faced with the dilemmas of eldercare.

Comments are closed.