Machines, medications and man-made parts: modern medicine continues to find and develop life-saving and life-prolonging interventions.
Advancements in heart research include:
- Bypass surgery
- Man-made implantable cardiac devices like pacemakers
When organs fail, there’s dialysis for kidney failure, and transplants for kidney, lung, liver and heart. Cancer continues to be researched, and survival rates and life expectancy has greatly increased. For neurological (brain) illness and injury, medications and interventions are emerging, and rehab helps with increased function. Even infections – which were regularly the cause of death in past generations – are now treated with antibiotics.
However, as the body winds down, so-called ‘Heroic Measures’ may do more harm than intended. CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) Breathing Machines (ventilators), Feeding tubes and specific medications can be considered Heroic Measures or seem more like Futile Treatment. When making decisions about any of these, it can help to understand the longer-term results and possible complications.
Of the three siblings, Ricky – the sole daughter – was closest to her mother, Anna. “When my marriage ended, my kids and I lived with my mother. We all adored her.” In the last three years of her life Anna- who died at age 91 – was beset by Dementia. “It was more than memory loss – it was her wonderful personality that vanished.” In spite of the pain of her beloved mother disappearing, Ricky took care of her until the end.