CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

In Medicine, Dying Doesn’t Have to Be a Struggle

Options, Not Treatment, May Be What's Most Needed at the End of Life

Grandma’s dying. She lived a full life, but illness is getting the best of her. Could be days, could be weeks, the doctors say—unless, that is, she tries one particular treatment. It’d involve some suffering on her part—needles, tubes, doctors checking up on her and all that—but, if it works, it’d buy her another few months. The family’s divided: Her daughter says fight the illness, give her everything medicine’s got. Her son doesn’t want her to endure any more pain. So, which is the right option? When is it time to prepare for death instead of delaying the inevitable? And did anyone ever bother to ask grandma what she wants? John Fairhall, the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, presented this scenario last night to an overflow crowd at a Zócalo/UCLA event, “Does Medicine Know How to Approach Death?” The scenario …