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Imagining the Alternatives to Life Prolonging Treatments: Elders' Beliefs about the Dying Experience

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Deciding for or against a life-prolonging treatment represents a choice between prolonged life and death. When the death alternative is not described, individuals must supply their own assumptions. How do people imagine the experience of dying? We asked 40 elderly people open-ended questions about dying without 4 common life-prolonging treatments, eliciting beliefs about pain, length of time, loneliness, and palliative care. Beliefs were diverse, loneliness was commonly assumed, and palliation was rarely mentioned spontaneously. Results underscore needs for improved understanding of the dying process and palliative care and for fuller communication between patients and healthcare providers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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