Our ageing population is a modern success story, and success brings problems. The new demographic is for people to die in old age, or extreme old age, but with multiple illnesses and diagnoses, and on a cocktail of medication. But where is the balance of medicine between curing and caring? Are we neglecting the wellbeing of the dying person in our desire to fight death at all costs?
Margaret McCartney, author of The Patient Paradox, examines the way we care for people at the end of life. She finds that medicine can harm as well as help, that loneliness and social isolation are endemic, and a lack of hands-on, human care means that people are not able to die where they would choose. She argues for a more compassionate and humane approach to the care of the dying which puts the needs of the individual first.