Many of us – tens of millions, in fact – are on track to live into our 80s and beyond. Scientific breakthroughs accompanied by improved public health programs in many countries have led to rising longevity in industrialized countries and elsewhere.
In the United States, however, there are also clear signs of chaos. Often patients do not have access to the full range of treatments they want, or their wishes are ignored and they receive unwanted medical treatment.
Multiple hospitalizations during the last year of life are common and many may be unnecessary and/or unwanted. Invasive and costly treatments are a frequent result — though many older adults and those with advanced illness also suffer from under-treated pain.