Slow Medicine Lets Elderly Go More Gracefully

Approach prefers less aggressive stance in fighting signs of aging
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2008 12:12 PM CDT
Slow Medicine Lets Elderly Go More Gracefully
Pallative care seeks to provide physical and psychological comfort when no physical cure is possible.   (KRT Photos)

In a medical culture seemingly aimed at reviving and resuscitating, the slow medicine approach instead allows elderly patients to weigh the risks and burdens of treatment against the likelihood that it will significantly extend their lives. For many seniors, the philosophy offers the freedom to choose comfort over cure, dying without the companionship of machines, the New York Times reports.

Slow medicine is well suited for nursing homes, but the idea is foreign to many doctors. “The culture has a built-in bias that everything that can be done will be done,” explains a UCLA doctor who says aggressive treatment for the elderly can often be "inhumane." With prognoses typically low for octogenarians, intense approaches don't buy much time anyway. (More old age stories.)

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