Welcome to Full Life Care
Welcome to Full Life Care – formerly ElderHealth Northwest.
Click here for more information about our 2011 name change.
Full Life helps adults of all ages with chronic illnesses, and physical or developmental disabilities. We are a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving people’s lives and supporting caregivers. Since the 1970s, we have helped thousands of individuals preserve their dignity and avoid living in a nursing home or in isolation.
Read more about us.
Autonomy is Not Reserved Just for the Healthy Young
by Nora Gibson, Executive Director
I’ve been listening to interviews with Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He’s also a science writer for The New Yorker and book author. This fall, he released his fourth book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.” He writes about our country’s medical model and its persistent focus on extending life without considering its quality.
Most interesting to me is his discussion about our long-term care system, where elders must often sacrifice choice in the name of safety. He points to personal experience with his wife’s grandmother. After moving into a care facility, she quickly lost her autonomy and was disallowed to make simple decisions about her daily activities, all under the facility’s guise of “making her safe.”
Dr. Gawande describes what life is like when you are not allowed to go into a kitchen and get what you want when you want it; not being able to eat a cookie because you might choke or see a rise in blood sugar. Noting how facilities are marketed to the children of potential residents, one expert told him: “Safety is what we want for those we love and autonomy is what we want for ourselves.” He believes an admirable goal of care should be “as good a quality of life all the way to the very end of life.”