People may envy our cat’s death. He lived to the ripe old age of 18 years (about 97 in people-years). He lost his appetite the final 7-10 days of his life. He remained active until the final 4 days when he lost some strength. He was mostly unconscious the final 2 days, but he did not appear to suffer. We left him asleep Sunday night, and he was dead Monday morning.
If you are an older adult in the US, you may wish to discuss such end-of-life issues with your physician. Would you want dialysis or feeding tubes or other sorts of care? If you don’t talk about it now, it may be left to others later – and you may not get what you want! Your loved ones may want to keep you alive with any treatment possible, or they may wish to withdraw therapies that you would prefer be continued! Efforts were underway to encourage this sort of conversation between physician and patient by actually paying doctors for the time these discussions take. Of course, this provision has now been dropped from the reform bills after being dubbed a “death squad.”
Your doctor will still discuss your wishes with you, even though Medicare does not cover this “luxury item” for the elderly. All of us will die one day, and we should consider our wishes while we can express them. Because we can’t all be as lucky as Denver the Wondercat.