General


Lucretius and Philip Larkin Talk about Death

I hadn’t read Philip Larkin’s stunning poem Aubade until Sissela Bok quoted it in her post about Seamus Heaney. I found Larkin’s evocation of the fear of death especially chilling. What terrifies him is a vision of nothingness, not any belief in an afterlife of torment:

Suicide among the Elderly

In terms of cost savings, suicide among the elderly would be quite effective. Perhaps “suicide panels” would be as successful as the imaginary ”death panels” that caused so much consternation as healthcare reform was being processed. A ready-made theme song for “suicide panels” could be “Suicide is Painless“, the theme song from the hit TV […]

Fixing the Technological Fix

Perhaps like many of my age, I am not captivated by a number of much-touted technological innovations, increasing choices I don’t desire, and fulfilling needs I didn’t realize I had. I am not sure that having a cell phone at the ready every minute of the day and night to bring messages, pictures, and apps […]

The Medicare Social Club

Days from her 80th birthday, “Nancy” (not her real name) is doing well.  She’s active, exercises, drives, travels, and lives alone in a multi-story apartment building without an elevator.  Her busy schedule of weekly activities includes several appointments with physicians.  Nancy’s medical needs are covered by Medicare. Nancy’s been in psychotherapy for a half-century.  She’s […]

Don’t Hide Behind HIPAA to Avoid Communicating with Caregivers!

 In May, Carol Levine posted about how HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) interferes with caregiving for the elderly by leading many health professionals to refuse to communicate with families and others involved in care of the elderly. Carol subsequently interviewed Leon Rodriguez, director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department […]

Coming Out about Age

When I was growing up, every 12 months I got one year older. But my mother, who turned 39 three months after my 7th birthday, remained 39. That puzzled me. My mother explained that for women, by magic, their age never clicked past 40! The French have long dealt with my mother’s reluctance to come […]

Grandma and Her Robot

As early as 1985, in A Robot in Every Home, futurist Mike Higgins predicted that “pet robots” would ultimately provide companionship for the elderly. He was right. “Service robots,” like the vacuum cleaner Roomba (on sale at Costco for $299), perform instrumental tasks. By contrast, “social/emotional robots” target the experiential aspects of our lives. Earlier […]

Avoiding Futile Care and Reducing Medicare Costs

If we in the U.S. ever hope to get a grip on Medicare costs, our society will first have to navigate a steep learning curve. That’s the lesson to take from three recent publications.  Despite the fact that Medicare is expected to represent 18% of the federal budget in 2020 (up from 15% in 2010), […]