Health Affairs — The news wasn’t good. The choice was either dialysis or die in three months. At the age of eighty-seven, Dad was part of the ever-dwindling “greatest generation” of men and women who served their country by fighting in World War II. And like many in this generation, he had declining health. Decades of smoking cigarettes—beginning after he joined the military—caught up with him years later, in his sixties, when he was diagnosed with coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease. Despite these setbacks, he entered the eighth decade of his life relatively healthy compared to many of his contemporaries, who seemed to spend much of their lives in hospitals or nursing homes. As Dad grew older, his definition of quality of life became simpler: maintaining his health; living in the comfort of his home with the love of his life, my mother; reading his daily newspapers; solving Sudoku puzzles; watching his favorite sports teams on the television; indulging in my mother’s culinary delights; listening to Johnny Cash; and getting behind the wheel of his favorite toy, an ever-spotless metallic gray Chevy Suburban.
Read the full piece from Health Affairs.