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"Dead at noon: B.C. woman ends her life rather than suffer indignity of dementia"

MY THOUGHTS: While I respect this woman’s right to choose how her life ended, there’s a dangerous tone in these types of conversation about dementia. I believe there can still be a quality of life and that some people (myself included) would not choose to die rather than live with dementia. It’s a different life, but I believe it can still have worth for some. Everyone’s journey with the disease is different, in ways that aren’t comparable to more straightforward physical illnesses.

I also strongly disagree with the premise at the end that if there was assisted suicide for dementia, then this woman could’ve lived longer. How would others choose where to draw that line? Dementia progresses differently for each person and the person with dementia often can’t tell you when enough is enough. I support her in making a clear choice on her own, but asking someone else to draw that line in the course of a very complicated and progressive disease is, in my opinion, completely unfair to the person who would have to make the call. I don’t think there is enough cognitive ability at later stages to call it assisted any longer. It would be something else entirely. And THAT I am not okay with, personally.

A person with dementia still has grace. People like me work to try and preserve it while maintaining as much safety and dignity as possible, and there are plenty of people who live for years with the illness while regularly experiencing happiness and sometimes even a kind of joy that isn’t possible except in the childlike place you sometimes revisit. Minimizing that factor evokes feelings in me that are similar to when I’ve heard people comment that those with severe (or even non-severe) developmental disabilities should’ve been allowed to die rather than “live like that.”

Not everyone finds that altered existence acceptable. That’s okay. But there IS grace to be found in all of the ways we exit this world, and we are still someone even in the latest stages of this illness. Those left behind may not understand or welcome the someone their loved one becomes, but there is still a life present, and one of some value even if it’s different, or ugly, or a huge departure from the person’s earlier personality. Sometimes wonderful, pleasant people become mean or angry, yes, but sometimes I hear a long-abused son or daughter tell me that dementia gave them a brief period of seeing their parent as the happy person they may have been before they grew hard and mean, and there can be relief in that in strange ways.

I’m glad for this woman, who found the right way to end things on her chosen terms, but the tone of the current conversation about dementia really worries me. There are stories of men whose wives are diagnosed and they shoot their spouse and then themselves. The conversation needs to be a careful one or we’re creating a scary climate among the elderly.



Now fully covered. Awesome. 

Now fully covered. Awesome. 



"My sister lost her baby... and my state requires her to see the ultrasound before she aborts it."


leeleeleelee submitted: “This is the reality of Texas’ ultrasound for abortion bill.  A 30 year old Texas woman’s fetus’ heart stopped beating after 12 weeks.  The options given were to wait until miscarriage, give birth to it, or to abort it (the preferred, safest option).  She has to look at an ultrasound of her already dead fetus and if she looks away, she will have to listen to the Doctor describe it.”

I don’t have anything snarky to say about this. This is heartbreaking. These ultrasound laws are cruel, invasive, and do nothing to lower abortion rates.

This is horrifying. HORRIFYING.

And for the record, not a deterrent. I saw my ultrasound by accident and still made a difficult choice that I have never regretted, because now I’m a happily married professional making a conscious decision to have children with the right person at the right time in my life.

To force someone who wanted that baby to look at an ultrasound of the already-deceased fetus is simply cruel and horrible and wrong.



Gynecologists told to prepare to treat transgender patients

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has come out with a new statement for their members: it’s time to prepare to work with transgender patients.

To address the significant health care disparities of transgender individuals and to improve their access to care, ob-gyns should prepare to provide routine treatment and screening or refer them to other physicians, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College).

In a Committee Opinion published today, The College also states its opposition to gender identity discrimination and supports both public and private health insurance coverage for gender identity disorder treatment.

I think this is incredibly awesome. :)



Why I Will Never Be Donating to Komen Foundation Again


Regarding: Komen Foundation Now Says It Will Continue Grants to Planned Parenthood (NPR):

I will never donate a dime to Komen Foundation again.

I am someone who went several years without health insurance (during and after undergrad), so I have received birth control, my first of many subsequent breast exams, sex education, instruction on self-exams, yearly pelvics, the morning after pill, and most importantly, one very crucial referral (since they don’t perform them in my area) to a safe place to have my 2002 abortion… all from my local Planned Parenthood. 

This is exactly the type of fiasco right-wing ass clowns hoped to generate by going on a witch hunt to find mis-use of Planned Parenthood funding. Cast yet-unfounded doubt on an organization that has done more for women’s health than any other organization (in my opinion) and put politic pressure where there should be NONE.

Someone made the joke to me recently that we should thank Komen for the money that was raised during this period of outrage and backlash, but I’m not in the habit of thanking a women’s health organization for putting anything other than women’s health FIRST.

I don’t care that Komen Foundation has caved to a new kind of politic pressure (the backlash of the outraged left wing, myself included). My eyes are open and the money I’ve given to Komen will be redirected to other charities.

Anyone who’d like to pat me on the head any further and chalk my response up to my silly liberal ways can henceforth go fuck themselves. I owe a good deal of where I am as a healthy woman to Planned Parenthood.

From my personal blog. Komen is permanently off my donation list.



A New Long-Term Care Insurance Program - NY

The Class Act, a legacy of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat whose widow and son were present to see the president sign it into law, sets up a voluntary government-run long-term care insurance program available through employers. Those who participate will pay monthly premiums. After five years, they’ll be covered and can receive benefits if they need care — whether they are 20-somethings in snowboard accidents or 80-somethings with Parkinson’s disease.

The program is not designed to pay the entire cost of long-term care, which can reach horrifying levels, but it will provide substantial help. And because participants will receive cash — $50 a day or more, depending on how disabled they are — they can buy the kind of assistance that makes sense to them. One person may choose to retrofit his home so he can remain there; another may hire a home care aide or a family member who wants to help but can’t afford to forgo income. People can use their Class benefits for assistive devices, adult day programs, assisted living or nursing homes.

Really interested in seeing where this goes. I’ve read that it’s been stalled by various parties and it sounds like it has the potential to really help a demographic that falls through the cracks in terms of this type of healthcare and assistance with daily living needs. 



Birth Control Without Copays Could Become Mandatory (NPR)

Update 2:00 p.m. ET: The Institute of Medicine report is out earlier than expected, after an embargo was broken. Among other things, it recommends that the federal government consider putting “the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods” on the list of services for women that would be covered by insurers without a copay.

I think this would be REALLY freaking amazing, but will it come to pass? In our current political climate, I would be pleasantly and ecstatically shocked.



LOL. Oh, you silly conservatives.

LOL. Oh, you silly conservatives.

(Source: )



Dementia Patients Hospitalized Too Often, Study Finds

Perhaps no group of nursing home residents is more vulnerable than those with advanced dementia: unable to speak for themselves, suffering the physical as well as the cognitive effects of their terminal disease, prone to confusion or fear when subjected to blood tests or trips in screaming ambulances.

Yet dementia patients are often subjected to aggressive treatments and transfers even though studies show little benefit, as researchers at Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston keep pointing out.

So what’s wrong with this picture? “I’d estimate 75 percent of those hospitalizations are avoidable,” Dr. Mitchell told me in an interview. “By and large, research shows they can be treated with equal effectiveness in the nursing home. And it’s less traumatic for a nursing home resident with dementia to remain in place.”

It SO incredibly frustrating when patients are sent to the ER by nursing homes with “increased agitation and combativeness” and a simple urine test in the ER reveals that they have a UTI (urinary tract infection). How do nursing homes seriously not know at this point that a UTI is very likely cause an elderly person to experience a delirium, and why do they let it progress to a point where the patient is so delirious that they’ve become unmanageable?

Too often on the geropsych unit do we find ourselves simply treating a delirious person with antibiotics and sending them back to their extended care facility on the same psychiatric meds they were admitted on. It’s disruptive for the patient (which is extremely unwise with dementia patients), confusing and scary for the patient’s loved ones, lazy and irresponsible on the part of the nursing facility, and frustrating for geropsych staff who are managing a medical issue because that issue escalated to the point of unmanageable agitation because someone didn’t think to have the patient urinate in a cup before shipping them to an ER.

Nursing homes that accept patients with dementia need more training on the three D’s (delirium, depression, dementia) so that they know to look for the things that *aren’t* just the progression of the dementia and are TREATABLE.



Ask an Elder Attorney: New Power of Attorney -

Your question indicates why naming multiple agents in a durable power of attorney and giving them equal authority can create chaos. If everyone gets along, if everybody’s always available, the partnership may work. If there’s conflict, or someone can’t be present when needed, problems arise.

I always recommend that a durable power of attorney name agents one at a time, in order of priority. The first person can serve alone, but if that person dies or is incapacitated or not available, then the next person can act alone, and so on down the list.

Please, please, PLEASE name agents one at a time. I’ve actually seen paperwork with five designated POAs who were expected to handle healthcare decisions by a majority vote.

That is REALLY complicated, especially with one of the POAs being deceased (created potential for a TIE). Please just choose a primary and then one or two alternates. Your family and your local health care providers will thank you. :)