The recent self-death by 104-year old scientist David Goodall brings to the fore a key question: Whether to deem deterioration from advanced aging – beyond having an incurable disease – as another reasonable consideration for euthanasia.
No, I'm not speaking of Jonathan Goldsmith, the guy who just pretended to be The Most Interesting Man in the World. I'm speaking of the real deal, my grandfather, Dimitri Berezow -- a man who survived Stalin and Hitler, cheated death on multiple occasions, and went on to live the American dream. His was an impossibly unique story – one that seems too extraordinary to be true (and yet is) – capped with a cautionary tale about modern healthcare.
We all have to die. Those of us who process that reality ahead of time might be lucky enough to have a small say over the time and location of our unavoidable demise. And in the process, we may help society as a whole come to terms with death. That is why we applaud the increase in deaths that are occurring at hospices.
A recent seven-country study in JAMA evaluates approaches to cancer patient care in the last year of life. The findings were that the U.S. does unexpectedly well in several areas, but relies too much on ICU admission and chemotherapy at life's end, and too little on palliative care.