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Slow medicine

By February 26, 2008 - 10:45am
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In a new book, a doctor says that family and friends of the elderly need to rescue their loved ones from traditional medical care. He points out that instead of a yearly mammogram, a manual breast exam may suffice for the very old, and home tests for blood in the stool may replace the draining routine of a colonoscopy. In other words, the pace of care should be slowed to a crawl. Do you agree with this thinking? Shouldn’t medical procedures become more aggressive with age considering the accompanying maladies?

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It is also a matter of quality of life. My 90 year old grandmother started to refuse all but routine maintenance of the stuff they already knew about. The dr found a lump on her breast when she was 95, and she refused all treatment.
She passed away at 102. She was still living her life at the fullest.

I know a lot of the screening tests are stressful and uncomfortable and have an element of risk to them. I think it would be up to the individual, but I have witnessed Dr's pressuring older people when they refuse treatment or invasive testing.

Once again, I think it is a matter of quality of life and the person's individual preference.

March 16, 2008 - 7:08pm

Whatever happened to the concept of preventive care? It seems as though health insurance carriers would rather cover the cost of treating your illness than pay for your annual checkups.

What, if you're elderly, it wouldn't matter as much if you found a lump in your breast? Or, is this doctor saying that it's less likely for an elderly woman to develop breast cancer? Does he really believe an elderly person would want to have to deal with a home stool test? I wonder how many the doctor has done at home - it's not the easiest thing to do!

I thought the field of medicine held to the notion that, the older we get, the more aggressive the care should be, just as the care is aggressive when we're very young. These days, our elderly are suffering from so many "maladies" that are caused by what we did not understand a generation or two ago.

I'm sure the good doctor has a perfectly rational explanation for his point of view. I just wonder how realistic it is.

February 26, 2008 - 6:01pm
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