End-of-Life and Pacemakers that Keep on Going

If you are not a regular reader of the New York Times, use this link to go to What Broke My Father’s Heart, by Katie Butler, published in the June 14, 2010, NY Times Magazine. Butler writes about the enormous difficulties her family encountered after a pacemaker was inserted into her father’s chest despite that he had advanced dementia. She describes the enormous stress and health consequences her mother experienced, as well as the thoughts and actions of the adult children in her family.

All of us should be aware, alert, and protective of our parents. When end-of-of-life decisions are unwittingly changed because of the addition of  life-prolonging medical devices, tragic problems can occur — even if all of a parent’s papers and legal documents are in place.

A May 14, 2010, MedlinePlus/Health Day article, As End of Life Nears, What to Do With Implanted Defibrillators?, provides additional background and discussion.

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