Issues — End of Life

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What Mandela is Teaching Us about End-of-Life Care

We don't know if Nelson Mandela left an advance directive for his family and doctors, but his illness put the spotlight on the lack of end-of-life planning worldwide. Vigi Sundaram reports at on quality-of-life issues, such as palliative care and hospice, that are often misunderstood.


Dying, Alone

After the death of his 90-year-old gay patient, geriatrician Manuel A. Eskildsen, MD, acknowledges, in this New York Times essay, his own fears of dying alone and considers what those without family support will face.


Getting Past Scared to Talk about the End of Life

Why do doctors often fail to explain options to patients as the end of life nears? That difficult conversation is so important that we’ve rounded up three meaty articles on the subject: from Boston Globe writer Joan Anderman; from Danielle Ofri, MD, writing in the New York Times blog, Well; and from Pauline W. Chen, MD, in the New York Times column Doctor and Patient.


Her Life Should Have Ended Years Ago

In 2007, Edie Littlefield Sundby was told she had three months to live. Still alive and writing in 2011 for the Well blog in the New York Times, Sundby describes how and why she has defied cancer statistics.


Dying in Your Sleep: A Peaceful Ending?

Reporter Elizabeth Simpson set out to learn if it’s true that dying in your sleep is the best way to go. She kept digging until she came up with a number of answers, which she summarizes in this article for the (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot.


Living Wills Promise a More Peaceful Passing

You should definitely have a living will if you don’t want aggressive treatment at the end of life and don’t want to die in a hospital, says health writer Elizabeth Landau. She cites a recent study in a blog for


Family Planning for Happier Endings

Five middle-aged sons and their 70-something parents sat down together to discuss end-of-life issues: wills, living wills, what the parents wanted to do if they could no longer live independently, and more. One of the sons, Adolf G. Gundersen, describes this emotional and exhilarating family planning session in a Washington Post article.


How to Take Charge of Your Future Medical Care Now

In her Personal Health column in the New York Times, Jane E. Brody discusses medical care at the end of life and why it’s important to make decisions about it long before that time comes.


Love in the Shadow of Memory Loss

Journalist Abigail Trafford writes about the Alzheimer’s conundrum in My Time, her Washington Post column. “Where is the love when disease hijacks a person's mind and personality?” she asks—and suggests some touching answers.


Toward a Better End

This article from the website of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online argues that one of our greatest challenges is to make the end of life worth living. The writer is Cambridge University scientist Guy Brown, author of The Living End: The New Sciences of Death, Ageing and Immortality (2008).


Why Some Older People Choose Suicide

Decades ago, journalist Andrew H. Malcolm wrote this thoughtful article about the suicides of older people for the New York Times. Read it and you’ll see that not much has changed since the piece was published in 1984.


A Suicide Pact Leads to an Eviction

When a couple in their 90s decided to stop eating and drinking to end their lives, their assisted living facility tried to evict them. Read journalist Paula Span’s article about this case in the global edition of the New York Times.


How to Exit, Laughing

Told he had just weeks to live, humorist Art Buchwald checked into a hospice. Senators, ambassadors and other famous visitors came and went. “I'm having the time of my life," he told journalist Sharon Waxman, who interviewed him for this New York Times article.


Do Doctors Fail Patients at the End of Life?

When doctors can’t save your life, there are other ways they can and should help you during the time you have left, wrote Atul Gawande, MD in a moving New Yorker article. Gawande is a staff writer for the magazine, a Boston surgeon and author of The Checklist Manifesto (2009).


Hospice Patients Speak from the Heart

Australian Bronnie Ware, who worked in palliative care for many years, wrote this unusual essay for her website, Inspiration and Chai. Describing the five regrets dying patients most often express, she converts them into lessons for the living. Ware is the author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying (2011).


Choose Your Health Surrogate Wisely

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, journalist Michelle Andrews explains why living wills are important—and why it can be even more important to choose the right person to make medical decisions for you if you’re no longer able to make them.


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Our Mission

The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

Notable Quote

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)