by Laurie Israel, Esq.
In the not so long ago times, people kept their loved ones in their parlors prior to burial. I remember my parents telling me that my grandmother (who died in 1955) was wrapped in a shroud afterwards, and the family was around her during the day she died, and overnight, until she was buried.
What follows is a composite of a story (really a family tragedy) that occurs again and again as people age. It has to do with aging parents, the onset of dementia, and insufficient preparation for the future.
Mediation, a form of out-of-court dispute resolution, is very much in the news these days.
Everyone’s heard about divorce mediation, and maybe you have a friend or family member who has used it for his or her divorce. A new field of mediation, marital mediation, is now emerging. In marital mediation, a mediator helps a couple who wants to stay married resolve their conflicts. It is an alternative to marital counseling, and sometimes it works when marital counseling does not.
As we and our loved ones grow older, we start seeing and experiencing situations of decline – physical and mental. Yes, the decline is accompanied with the peace of mind and contentment that comes from years of experience. But the physical problems every older person has needs to be dealt with on an ongoing basis.
In “Frank Talk About Care at Life’s End” (New York Times, 8/24/2010), Jane Brody discusses the recently enacted New York law signed by Governor David Patterson that requires doctors who treat patients with terminal illnesses to give them information about aggressive pain management and hospice care to consider in making their end-of-life medical care decisions. There is a similar provision in the original Federal health care overhaul proposal. (It was withdrawn after all the “death panel” objections.)
An article appeared in The New York Times Magazine on June 20, 2010, entitled “What Broke My Father’s Heart” by Katy Butler. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/magazine/20pacemaker-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1