Quarterly Essay 57: Dear Life

Quarterly Essay 57: Dear Life

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In this moving and controversial Quarterly Essay, doctor and writer Karen Hitchcock investigates the treatment of the elderly and dying through some unforgettable cases. With honesty and deep experience, she looks at end-of-life decisions, frailty and dementia, over-treatment and escalating costs. Ours is a society in which ageism, often disguised, threatens to turn the elderly into a a€œburdena€ a€“ difficult, hopeless, expensive and homogenous. While we rightly seek to curb treatment when it is futile, harmful or against a patienta€™s wishes, this can sometimes lead to limits on care that suit the system rather than the person. Doctors may declare a situation hopeless when it may not be so. We must plan for a future when more of us will be old, Hitchcock argues, with the aim of making that time better, not shorter. And we must change our institutions and society to meet the needs of an ageing population. Dear Life is a landmark essay by one of Australiaa€™s most powerful writers. a€œThe elderly, the frail are our society. They are our parents and grandparents, our carers and neighbours, and they are every one of us in the not-too-distant future . . . They are not a growing cost to be managed or a burden to be shifted or a horror to be hidden away, but people whose needs require us to change . . .a€ a€”Karen Hitchcock, Dear LifeExamples can be found in Denmark, where 24-hour multidisciplinary centres, with GPs and specialists, nurses and allied ... changes such as these require long-term vision and funding, and in the short term they may not be good for business.

Title:Quarterly Essay 57: Dear Life
Author:Karen Hitchcock
Publisher:Black Inc. - 2015-03-14


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