My mother was an active, healthy 91-year-old when she fell on a marble floor in her high-rise, badly damaging three vertebrae. She didn’t tell me or go to a doctor, so by the time I arrived in Florida four days later she was in agony, having taken nothing stronger than Tylenol. No doctor I reached that night would make a house-call. She kept moaning, “I want to die.” The next day her aide and I somehow got her to a doctor, who prescribed something so inadequate that she was screaming the next night. The facts blur, but eventually in desperation I called a friend, a pediatrician in another city, who said to insist on Oxycontin. I did, and that night my mother slept. And so did I. But the pediatrician also said, “This is standard medical practice. So your mother is 91? They...
When My Mother Wanted to Die: The Neglected Issues of Ageist Undertreatment
margaret morganroth gullette is the author of Ending Ageism: How Not to Shoot Old People (2017). Gullette’s prize-winning nonfiction books include Declining to Decline and Agewise. Gullette is a resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University.
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Margaret Morganroth Gullette; When My Mother Wanted to Die: The Neglected Issues of Ageist Undertreatment. Tikkun 1 August 2018; 33 (3): 6–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08879982-6817829
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