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To Die Well: Your Right to Comfort, Calm, and Choice in the Last Days of Life

Overview

Knowing our rights to refuse treatment, and ways to bring death earlier if pain or distress cannot be alleviated, will spare us the frightening helplessness that can rob our last days of meaning and personal connection. Drs. Wanzer and Glenmullen clarify what patients should insist of their doctors, including the right to enough pain medication even if it shortens life. Everyone needs their wise and comforting advice.

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To Die Well: Your Right to Comfort, Calm, and Choice in the Last Days of Life

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Overview

Knowing our rights to refuse treatment, and ways to bring death earlier if pain or distress cannot be alleviated, will spare us the frightening helplessness that can rob our last days of meaning and personal connection. Drs. Wanzer and Glenmullen clarify what patients should insist of their doctors, including the right to enough pain medication even if it shortens life. Everyone needs their wise and comforting advice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Journal of the American Medical Association
"Brings needed hope and comfort to those who are near death and to those who attend the dying and are responsible for ensuring that a good death is possible. The book will appeal to patients, their families, and their caregivers. A fascinating book, rich with clinical stories. Gently and compassionately written."

 

MilwaukeeMagazine, March 2011 “Wanzer makes a strong case for allowing people greater choices in how they die.”

Midwest Book Review
An essential addition not just for medical libraries, but for general-interest collections.
World Right-to-Die Newsletter
A careful, well-organized, thoughtful explication of the 'turning points' patients and families face when serious illness strikes.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
A guiding light on the turbid road to comfort, calm and choice in the last days of life....written for patients and their families and caregivers in a determined attempt to shed revealing light on what contributes to a peaceful death and what does not.
Publishers Weekly

A leader in the right-to-die movement, Wanzer advocates measures that allow patients to control decisions about end-of-life treatment and ensure a peaceful death. With the help of Harvard Medical School faculty member Glenmullen (The Antidepressant Solution), Wanzer, the former head of Harvard University Health Services, provides clear legal and medical guidelines for the terminally ill and their loved ones who are facing these decisions. Drawing on case histories, the author outlines the rights of patients, advises them on how to appoint a health care proxy and on ways to refuse unwanted treatments. Wanzer also supports opting for only comfort care, in which the focus is on minimizing pain and making patients comfortable. Although he emphasizes the need to differentiate between a terminally ill patient's rational decision to end his or her life and suicidal depression, Wanzer argues that when someone is terminally ill and in uncontrollable pain with no hope of improvement, hastening death—through large doses of morphine, refusal of fluids or inhaling helium—should be an option. Wanzer and Glenmullen clearly delineate a patient's rights and provide a wealth of information on a matter most of us would rather not think about. (Apr. 1)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Wanzer, an experienced internist and leader in the right-to-die movement, and Glenmullen (psychiatry, Harvard Univ.; The Antidepressant Solution) present in clear, logical, and practical terms what individuals can do to achieve a peaceful death for themselves and their loved ones. Using a combination of patient stories and their own expert discussions, the authors describe the legal rights of terminally ill patients to end their medical care. They also address the controversial issue of hastening the death of terminally ill patients; two chapters are devoted to various options available to end life when faced with intolerable suffering. The book's valuable appendixes include a sample living will and brief discussions of Oregon's physician-assisted dying law and legalized assisted dying in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. More useful than the many other recent books on death and dying, this influential volume should be on the shelves of every public and university library.
—Ross Mullner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738211633
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/25/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 996,679
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sidney Wanzer, M.D., is a nationally known authority on issues of death and dying, formerly with the Harvard University Health Services. Dr. Wanzer lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, is the author of Prozac Backlash. Dr. Glenmullen lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents


Preface     xi
Turning Points at Life's End     1
Rights of the Dying Patient     15
The First Turning Point: From Active Treatment to Comfort Care     23
Pain Control     49
What You Should Expect from Your Doctors and Nurses     55
Family and Friends     67
The Second Turning Point: Making the Decision to Hasten Death     75
What Options Have Been Used in the Past to Hasten Death?     89
Helium: Newly Used Method to End Suffering     115
Differentiating Sadness at the End of Life from Clinical Depression     125
The Special Case of Irreversible Dementia and End-of-Life Management     131
Planning Ahead with Advance Directives: Staying in Control     141
Allowing a Merciful Death     149
Historical Background of the End-of-Life Movement and Current National Organizations     155
Oregon and Physician-assisted Dying     163
The International Scene     171
End-of-Life Organizations     174
Sample Living Will     176
Health Care Proxy Form with Optional Attachment     178
Proposed Authorization for Ending Life in Situations of Irreversible and Progressive Cognitive Decline     184
Notes     188
Index     200
Acknowledgments     205
About the Authors     209
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