aging


Who’s Responsible for Granny?

On July 30, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill that created Medicare, he outlined an ethical vision for the nation’s obligations to its older citizens. “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine,” he said. “No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have […]

Overtreatment of elderly diabetics

The last time I was directly responsible for treating diabetes was fifty years ago, when I was an intern in medicine at UCLA. In my subsequent career as a psychiatrist I was not directly responsible for diabetes care, and as an individual, I don’t have the condition. As a result, I haven’t kept up on […]

Reluctance to use Hearing Aids

The classic cartoon picture of someone with hearing loss is a bent, old man with a giant ear horn held to his ear: not a pretty picture.  Things have come a long way.  Modern hearing aides are highly sophisticated electronic devices, some so small that they can fit into the ear canal and be virtually […]

Arnold Relman: 1923 – 2014

Dr. Arnold (“Bud”) Relman died yesterday at 91. He was the most esteemed leader among those who have been dismayed by the commercialization, fragmentation, excessive cost, and relatively poor quality of the U.S. health “system.” In 1980, as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Bud sounded the alarm about a danger he fought […]

When is a Good, or Tolerable, Time to Die?

As someone who has spent many years writing about end-of-life care, there is one question that has long intrigued me, but it is rarely posed in that context. When is a good, or tolerable, time to die? I do not mean when one is in pain or suffering, which is the way that question usually […]

Why I won’t test myself for the Alzheimer’s gene

A recent survey of 1200 adults found that Alzheimer ’s disease (AD) is the most feared disease among older Americans, with 44% identifying it as their biggest worry. Cancer was second, with 33% fearing it most. Over 65ers will not be surprised by these findings. Given the high level of fear, it’s natural and inevitable […]

What it Takes to Age in Place

Time is measured in many ways. For Jane, the big turkey and overflowing trays of Thanksgiving fixings served up on her long dining room table each year were the indication of how much her family had grown. But this year, her daughter and daughter-in-law handled the side dishes and the turkey had to be delivered, […]

Heroes of the Past

When I graduated from Yale in 1952, I began getting the alumni magazine. Our class was the latest in a long list of class notes, the new kids on the block. Most impressive were those at the beginning of the chronological listing. I was amazed by that long list of predecessors, graduates in the 1890s […]

Age and Judgment

I was struck recently by the concluding sentences of an article written by Nathaniel Morris, a Harvard Medical School student. Note his final words. “. . . health care providers must discern when to apply the powerful instruments at their disposal and when to carefully hold back. It often just comes down to clinical judgment, […]

The Wisdom of Old Curmudgeons

The bad reputation of elderly curmudgeons is well known: angry guys raging at the declining world, their failed, decadent society, the younger self-centered generation, the crooks elected to public office, and the local trash pick-up dictatorship forcing the sorting out of bottles and newspapers. At the risk of being outed as one of those guys, […]