To the Better End
Fred Hansen
Winter '07

Men's Group, First Unitarian Church, Pittsburgh
These notes are for the April, 2007, meeting
Cartoon by R.Nixon.
What kept you?
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backlink arrow (up and to the right) Physpics
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Although never easy, dying has been getting harder. Yes, it's harder to die because doctors can now diagnose and cure many more ills. But death is also harder on the patient because now we die from the debilitating, life-sucking long-term diseases.*

Our men's group discussion will focus on:
What medical and legal steps should be taken to ease the physical pains and emotional disruptions from death?

This web site offers some background:
  • My own experiences
  • State reports - legal background
        The Pennsylvania report
        Evaluation of all states
  • Organizations
        Compassion and Choices
  • Living wills - choosing for oneself
        Caring Conversations - Center for Practical Bioethics
        Five Wishes - Aging with Dignity
        POLST - Oregon Health and Science University
  • Metaphysics - thinking about death
  • Topic for discussion - for the meeting
In the attached web pages, I have collected documents about adapting the patient care delivery system to the modern era of long-term illness before death. No one is talking about euthanasia. The discussion is about how to make patients more comfortable, without prolonging their pain.

Patient in intensive care
"An intensive-care patient is aided by several of the many life support systems available. PHOTO RESEARCHERS"
These tools helped save this man's life.
The same tools can needlessly prolong a painful life.

*The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides funding for health care issues. A task force they sponsored put the problem this way:
While opinion polls reveal that most Americans would prefer to die at home, free from pain and with their loved ones, the reality is vastly different. Americans often die alone in hospitals or nursing homes, in pain and attached to life support machines they may not want.
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