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Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System

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Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Gripping…A superb resource for boomers dealing with their parents final days…as well as for health-care professionals who need to hear this story from the other side.”

--Kirkus Reviews

 

With advances in medicine, technology, and daily diet and exercise practices, Americans are living longer than ever before.  We have an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful closure – free of pain, among loved ones, with our affairs in order and spiritual calm attained. Instead, most of us discover that our doctor has minimal training in providing end-of-life care, and will seek to extend life no matter how painful, expensive and futile that effort might be.

 

In Last Rights, award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan shows how patients and families can regain control of the dying process, creating familial intimacy like never before.  Bolstered by both scientific research and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, Last Rights offers a hopeful, profound vision for patients, doctors, and families: a way to honor people during their greatest vulnerability, a chance for families to reconnect, an opportunity for the medical system to treat patients with ultimate respect, a time to give comfort and compassion to those we most love. 

 

Stephen P. Kiernan is a writer and journalist for the Burlington Free Press. His numerous awards include the Gerald Loeb Award for Financial Journalism, the Associated Press Managing Editors' Freedom of Information Award, and the George Polk Award. He lives in Charlotte, Vermont.
In the 1970s, most Americans died swiftly and brutally: of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, or in accidents. But in the past three decades, medical advances have extended our lives and changed the way we die. In Last Rights, Stephen Kiernan reveals the disconnect between how patients want to live the end of life—pain-free, functioning mentally and physically, surrounded by family and friends—and how the medical system continues to treat the dying—with extreme interventions, at immense cost, and with little regard to pain, human comforts, or even the stated wishes of patients and families.
 
Backed with surveys, interviews, and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, from the dying and their families to the doctors and nurses who care for them, this book will be for our time what Elizabeth Kubler-Rosss books were for a previous generation.
“I wish I'd had this book before my own father died. Part a guide to thinking through the policy questions surrounding the end of life, and part an informal handbook for helping with the deaths of your own loved ones, it also offers a final and supreme gift: the chance to begin thinking about what your own life means in the context of its inevitable end.”—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

 

“With an uncommon mix of stories and scholarship, Stephen Kiernan has described the challenges that remain at life's end, despite efforts to reform care over the past few decades. With candor, clarity, and an advocate's sense of urgency, he seeks to understand why our acute-care system has been so resistant to change and how we can infuse greater humanity to life's final chapter.”—Joseph J. Fins, M.D., F.A.C.P., Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and author of A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life's End

 

Last Rites paints a frightening picture of the disorganized, deficient, and disastrous ways many people are cared for and die. Thankfully, Kiernan goes beyond exposé to uncover hopeful progress and practical ways to protect and nurture the people we love. Kiernans Last Rites is to end-of-life care today what Naders Unsafe at Any Speed was to car safety in the 1960s.”—Ira Byock, M.D., Professor of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, and author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

 
"Anyone who has stood helplessly by as physicians insisted that a battery of tests and interventions could prolong the life of a loved one, only to see those expensive efforts fail, is certain to be moved by Kiernan's presentation. While his assertion that the American way of dying has changed only during the last 30 years may be debatable, there is no question that the process of dying has undergone a radical makeover. It has become, too often, a parade of last-ditch, state-of-the-art medical interventions, to the direct detriment of the dying person and his or her family and friends. Those who have a terminal illness, Kiernan says, deserve to die quietly, in their own homes, surrounded by loved ones and as pain-free as possible. He makes it sound simple enough, and a lot cheaper than the currently popular, if futile, pricey hospital heroics that prolong little more than misery. The problem is that American medical schools devote more time to teaching students about diseases not even found in the U.S. than to preparing them to work with terminal patients. Doctors, therefore, are ill equipped in every way to accompany a patient down the path to a serene death. A nice polemic, even without practical advice on assuring one's own peaceful demise."—Donna Chavez, Booklist (starred review)

Synopsis:

“Gripping…A superb resource for boomers dealing with their parents final days…as well as for health-care professionals who need to hear this story from the other side.”

--Kirkus Reviews

 

With advances in medicine, technology, and daily diet and exercise practices, Americans are living longer than ever before.  We have an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful closure - free of pain, among loved ones, with our affairs in order and spiritual calm attained. Instead, most of us discover that our doctor has minimal training in providing end-of-life care, and will seek to extend life no matter how painful, expensive and futile that effort might be.

 

In Last Rights, award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan shows how patients and families can regain control of the dying process, creating familial intimacy like never before.  Bolstered by both scientific research and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, Last Rights offers a hopeful, profound vision for patients, doctors, and families: a way to honor people during their greatest vulnerability, a chance for families to reconnect, an opportunity for the medical system to treat patients with ultimate respect, a time to give comfort and compassion to those we most love. 

 

About the Author

STEPHEN KIERNAN is a writer and journalist for the Burlington Free Press. His numerous awards include the Gerald Loeb Award for Financial Journalism, the Associated Press Managing Editors' Freedom of Information Award, and the George Polk Award. He lives in Charlotte, Vermont.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312374648
Author:
Kiernan, Stephen P.
Publisher:
Griffin
Subject:
Aging
Subject:
Aging - General
Subject:
Health Care Issues
Subject:
Terminal care
Subject:
Death
Subject:
Death -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Subject:
Health and Medicine-General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20071231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.28x5.74x.86 in. .64 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Death and Dying
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Sociology » Aging
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.99 In Stock
Product details 320 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9780312374648 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

“Gripping…A superb resource for boomers dealing with their parents final days…as well as for health-care professionals who need to hear this story from the other side.”

--Kirkus Reviews

 

With advances in medicine, technology, and daily diet and exercise practices, Americans are living longer than ever before.  We have an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful closure - free of pain, among loved ones, with our affairs in order and spiritual calm attained. Instead, most of us discover that our doctor has minimal training in providing end-of-life care, and will seek to extend life no matter how painful, expensive and futile that effort might be.

 

In Last Rights, award-winning journalist Stephen P. Kiernan shows how patients and families can regain control of the dying process, creating familial intimacy like never before.  Bolstered by both scientific research and intimate portraits of people from all walks of life, Last Rights offers a hopeful, profound vision for patients, doctors, and families: a way to honor people during their greatest vulnerability, a chance for families to reconnect, an opportunity for the medical system to treat patients with ultimate respect, a time to give comfort and compassion to those we most love. 

 

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