New York Times Health

In Palliative Care, Comfort Is the Top Priority

Last year, when an oncologist advised that Betty Chin might benefit frompalliative care, her son Kevin balked. Mrs. Chin, a retired nurse’s aide who lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown, was undergoing treatment for a recurrence of colorectal cancer. Her family understood that radiation and chemotherapy wouldn’t cure her, but they hoped doctors could keep the cancer

In India, Dispensers of Balm Travel to Death’s Door

A white van coursed through narrow roads along the monsoon-soaked coastline of Kerala, a state in southwestern India. Inside, Radha Upasarna, a volunteer, and two nurses looked over the roster of patients they would visit, most of whom had cancer or heart disease or were paraplegic. As they bumped along through the area’s villages, the

The Trouble With Advance Directives

The man had written an advance directive four years ago, before his advancing dementia had made communication difficult. He had been very specific. In case of a life-threatening condition, “he wanted comfort care only, no heroics,” said Dr. Rebecca Aslakson, a critical care anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. But last month an uncontrollable

Know the Hard Choices Prolonging Life Entails

Ken Orvidas Virgie Divinigracia had the kind of death last month that most Americans say they want: at home, relieved of physical and mental pain, surrounded by those she loved, “a beautiful death” as those present described it. Alas, this is true for too few Americans. Most still die in costly medical facilities

Treating C.O.P.D. in the Elderly (New York Times Health)

Which medications work best for older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Doctors aren’t entirely sure: Despite the fact that C.O.P.D. is the third-leading cause of death, there is scant research on the comparative effectiveness of treatment options in seniors. But a study recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association provides valuable

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