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“I recently turned 70 in Marin County, Calif., home to some of the healthiest, wealthiest and longest-lived people in the country. I swim daily, take no medications and can still hoist my roll-aboard bag into an overhead bin. But there is no denying that somewhere beyond the horizon, my death has saddled his horse and is heading my way. And I’m hoping to make that death as good as my life has been.
My wish is to die in my own bed, cared for by people I love—clean, comfortable and relatively free from pain. I hope to have time to say my goodbyes and give my final blessings. But in our technologically advanced society—despite the billions we spend on end-of-life medical care—this simple, old-fashioned and once-inexpensive death is harder to achieve than you might think.
According to a 2017 Kaiser Foundation study, seven in 10 Americans hope to die at home. But half die in nursing homes and hospitals, and more than a tenth are cruelly shuttled from one to the other in their final three days. Pain is a major barrier to a peaceful death, and nearly half of dying Americans suffer from uncontrolled pain. Nobody I know hopes to die in the soulless confines of an Intensive Care Unit. But more than a quarter of Medicare members cycle through one in their final month, and a fifth of Americans die in an ICU.
In his final year of life, retired IBM manager Ed Walski, who had Parkinson’s disease and dementia, was shuttled nine times between his assisted living apartment and hospitals and nursing homes. “The first few times I’d say, OK, we got him through this, and now he’s going to get rehab and be back where he was,” said his daughter Karen Randall, a veterinarian in Silver Spring, Md. “But he never came back. It was a stair step down to the basement.” Despite financial resources and a devoted daughter, Walski’s dying was far more chaotic and painful than it needed to be.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Historic buildings and structures dating from the Byzantine era to the 20th century have been subjected to disastrous restorations in recent years here, prompting public outcry and fostering a cynical attitude toward planned projects."
"Fox News, normally the object of presidential praise on Twitter, was subjected to an unusual tweet-lashing over the weekend when the president went after three of its anchors."
"Opinion: I am not willing to cast a ballot for this current crop of scandal-mongers, gossips and PR-obsessed dilettantes who are tearing the country apart - don't we deserve better?"
"Listening to The Joe Rogan Experience is sort of like crashing an intense, intimate dinner party in which the only courses are whiskey and weed."
"At the Jewish Museum in London called “Jews, Money, Myth.” The show explores the ways in which Jews have been associated with money over the past 2,000 years."
"Footage of last week’s massacre in New Zealand, which the shooter streamed in real time via Facebook Live, quickly proliferated. The original 17-minute webcast was viewed fewer than 200 times and wasn’t immediately reported, Facebook says."
"When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough. When I hear that AIPAC is too influential a lobby, I say it must become even more influential."
"Lost in migration: When Walter Benjamin fled France in 1940, he took a heavy black suitcase. Did it contain a typescript? Where is it now?"
"Someday my daughter will be asked if she wants to have a bat mitzvah. I’m inclined to let her make up her own mind... It's a lot of work to learn Hebrew, memorize parts of the Torah and prepare for a pressure-packed performance at such a young age."
"Tablet's Unorthodox Podcast: Gail Simmons, Shalom Auslander, Jill Kargman, Gil Hovav, and more on the Jewish foods that mean the most to them."
""Hitting someone is a foundational moral violation," Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom wrote in a comment to the paper. "Indeed, these sorts of physical infractions are found to be morally wrong by the youngest babies we can test."
" Ilhan Omar in particular has garnered attention for tweets widely viewed by the Jewish community as trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The result has been the most media coverage of anti-Semitism in a decade..."