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Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System (Paperback)
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"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."
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 P. Kiernan is a writer and journalist for the Burlington Free Press. He is the author of The Curiosity, Last Rights and Authentic Patriotism. 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.
“Damn, 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. Kiernan's Last Rites is to end-of-life care today what Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed was to car safety in the 1960s. This is one book that America must read!” —Ira Byock, M.D., Professor of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, and author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most