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Samuel Harrington ’69, MD
Author, At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life

Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility or overconfidence in our health care system, results in the majority of elderly patients dying in institutions. Many undergo painful procedures instead of the more peaceful death they deserve. At Peace outlines active and passive steps that older patients and their health care proxies can take to ensure loved ones live their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice when further aggressive care is inappropriate.

Informed by more than 30 years of clinical practice along with Dr. Samuel Harrington’s own experience with the aging and deaths of his parents, he describes the terminal patterns of the six most common chronic diseases; how to recognize a terminal diagnosis even when the doctor is not clear about it; how to have the hard conversation about end-of-life wishes; how to minimize painful treatments; when to seek hospice care; and how to deal with dementia and other special issues.

HAVING FUN

How does fun figure in your life? Finding joy in the pursuit of an activity, or a craft or a skill, is valuable beyond its short-term pleasure. Play, even when it’s actually hard work, profoundly affects emotional balance, self-esteem, competency and drive. Play is a vital resource for successful people. In this issue, Milton Magazine brings stories about alumni ventures that have been labors of love. An observer might think their work looks like fun. Driven by a particular passion, these alumni end up pursuing creative work that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

We ask Milton students, as well, to describe how they find fun in their busy, committed lives.