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Should Prolonging Life Always Be the Goal in Health Care?

By Ron Gold, CEO, LeanOnWe

How to Have a Better Death

Doctors are trained to help people extend life as long as possible, but the question some people are now raising is, “What kind of life are they prolonging?” More questions need to be asked about whether this is really what all people want. And we need a greater emphasis on palliative care to mitigate pain and other symptoms.

“How to Have a Better Death” is a topical and provocative article recently published in The Economist. It is a conversation that Atul Gawande and others have brought to light.

According to the article, “Polls, including one carried out in four large countries by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an American think-tank, and The Economist, find that most people in good health hope that, when the time comes, they will die at home. And few, when asked about their hopes for their final days, say that their priority is to live as long as possible. Rather, they want to die free from pain, at peace, and surrounded by loved ones for whom they are not a burden.”

I saw this with my own dad who had a true zest for life, but inexorably deteriorated as Parkinson’s consumed him. I know that those final months were not the way he would have wanted his life to end -- and neither would I.

About The Author

When an out-of-control SUV barreled into Ron's bicycle on a quiet road in New Jersey in 2011, the accident left him paralyzed and in need of home care every day. And when he experienced countless problems finding reliable, affordable private caregivers, Ron knew there had to be a better way. He founded LeanOnWe with a focus on delivering a better, more thoughtful home care experience at a reasonable cost.

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