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.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The curiosity to ask why and the courage to speak out are qualities that lead to innovation and change. The individuals featured in this issue embody these qualities. Through their questioning, leadership, and willingness to share their views, they are making a difference–in their professions and in the world.