Michael Gordon, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Medical Program Director, Palliative Care, Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System, Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
One of the challenges faced by those of us who practice geriatric medicine or through another specialty is helping family members understand the hodgepodge of medical literature especially as it is reported by internet/Google searches rather than careful reviews of the peer reviewed literature. Even in the latter there is a wide range of opinions which even for physicians sometimes presents a challenge in how we make our recommendations. This is especially the case when dealing with dementia.
Keywords: dementia, burden, stress, fear, guilt, families.
Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd, BA, LL.B,
More than just the catch-phrase of the day, 'Living Wills' appeared to be the answer for increasing patient control in end-of-life decisions, and a much sought-after solution for an aging population (but one that is increasingly sophisticated about treatment options). The issue of Living Wills was explored in the May/June 1998 edition of Geriatrics and Aging in an article entitled 'Living Wills Ease Patient's Fear' by Lawrence J. Papoff (please see our web site www.geriatricsandaging.com for this article). Recent research has demonstrated that the Living Will is an instrument well-liked by physicians and patients for its capacity to empower patients with independence when facing a life-threatening condition, but it is still surprisingly under-used. It is important for physicians treating geriatric patients to be aware of the extent to which Living Wills can be incorporated into their practice, and to consider their role in educating patients about the issue.
A Living Will is nothing more than a written document that speaks for your patient after he or she becomes incapable of making or communicating his or her own health care decisions.
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