Gerontologists see something worse than death

When the aim is no longer just to extend life, but to extend the quality of what life is left, an increased risk of death has to be balanced against other factors.

gerontology graphLet me start by stating clearly that geriatrics is as much art as science. (Graph from Benbest.com.)

One of my favorite inlaws is a gerontologist and we're all very proud of him. The line above is his.

It's tough to balance the needs of pain and lifespan. The aim is always to create quality life, not eternal life.

When patients exhibit signs of dementia, the standard protocol is to treat it with an antipsychotic drug or an atypical antipsychotic.

The FDA now has a warning. Bad move, they say. The patient may die. "There is no approved drug for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis," the agency adds. "Healthcare professionals should consider other management options."

The trouble with that last sentence is it misses the point. When the aim is no longer just to extend life, but to extend the quality of what life is left, an increased risk of death has to be balanced against other factors.

And this warning doesn't do that. Good doctors like my relative are left with their art when science says no.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All