Daniel Callahan


Perry’s Graduation

My granddaughter Perry graduated from high school in June. It was a wonderful event on a beautiful day and she made us proud by winning a prize for her work in the social sciences. What made that event extra special was that she has lived with us for all of her 18 years, and this […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Remembering Sherwin Nuland

The death last week of Dr. Sherwin Nuland, author of the prize-winning 1994 book, How We Die, reminded me of a line in that book “about our society’s denial of the naturalness, even the necessity of death.” Death in an ICU, he wrote, was the “purest form” of that denial, but more broadly he wrote, […]

AARP: Shades of Old Age

A little over a year ago I went off salary at The Hastings Center, keeping a few duties but losing the formal status that gave me health insurance through private carriers. I promptly signed up for Medicare coverage and simultaneously for the AARP medigap program. Since I write on health care and aging I was […]

On Aging and Writing a Hard Book

I recently finished a biography of Bertrand Russell, a major 20th century British philosopher who, as his career moved along, shifted heavily toward personal involvement in international political and cultural affairs, most notably arms control and nuclear weapon reduction—but meanwhile, as a kind of relaxation, continuing to turn out a stream of philosophy books. He […]

Proust on Treating Chronic Illness

The need to control health care cost is a central challenge for health and economic policy. Other than the high prices we pay in the U.S., chronic illness is a main driver of cost escalation, especially for Medicare.  Seventy-six percent of Medicare spending is on patients with five or more chronic diseases, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, […]

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 […]

Making a Human Community

My wife Sidney and I spend our summers on a small island off the coast of Maine, Little Cranberry, well down east. The island has many charms, but I am most impressed by the wonderful integration of all age groups in the life of the island, from babies and young children to those in their […]