The Zen of Eating Cream of Wheat: A Journey Into Dementia

As a bedside hospice volunteer in San Francisco, I always have the choice of whether or not to accept an assignment. Some, I immediately know are right for me, such as sitting with a man my age who was estranged from his family and desperately wanted to reconnect with them. With others, especially those with advanced Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, I occasionally question whether the assignment makes sense—but not anymore.

Counseling at the End of Life

As the debate on heath care reform heated up, the phrase “end of life counseling” was used as a canard by opponents of change. According to many of them, end of life counseling was the equivalent of a death panel where those worthy of saving would be, and those deemed too expensive to maintain would have the plug pulled. One would have to go back to the McCarthy period to find this level of accusation and inaccuracy. But where was it coming from?