Last Rights: Death Control and the Elderly in America

Barbara J. Logue, Author Lexington Books $50 (372p) ISBN 978-0-669-27370-0
This broad, complex look at the rights of the dying offers an unusually rich account of its subject. Logue, a Mississippi demographer, provides a revealing cross-cultural examination of the way nonindustrialized societies have dealt with their frail elderly. It's often not a pleasant picture--as with the Yakut of Siberia, who beat decrepit parents to death. But the point here, amply documented, is that medical care in the cost-containment-conscious United States is not much more civilized. The complex bureaucracies of nursing homes, medical insurance companies and hospices can hasten the demise of elderly people, sometimes even driving them to suicide. Conversely, she asserts, the propensity of modern medicine to prolong life against the will of an individual makes it crucial that society uphold our right to choose the way to die. Logue argues as well the right of physicians to assist patients in implementing the decision. The book shows how social science can serve social policy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/25/1998
Release date: 05/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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