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Publisher's Summary

The authoritative, informative, and reassuring guide on end-of-life care for our aging population.

Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But overly aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility or overconfidence in our health-care system, results in the majority of elderly patients misguidedly dying in institutions. Many undergo painful procedures instead of having the better and more peaceful death they deserve. At Peace outlines specific active and passive steps that older patients and their health-care proxies can take to ensure loved ones live their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice when further aggressive care is inappropriate. 

Through Dr. Samuel Harrington's own experience with the aging and deaths of his parents and of working with patients, he describes the terminal patterns of the six most common chronic diseases; how to recognize a terminal diagnosis even when the doctor is not clear about it; how to have the hard conversation about end-of-life wishes; how to minimize painful treatments; when to seek hospice care; and how to deal with dementia and other special issues. Informed by more than 30 years of clinical practice, Dr. Harrington came to understand that the American health-care system wasn't designed to treat the aging population with care and compassion. His work as a hospice trustee and later as a hospital trustee drove his passion for helping patients make appropriate end-of-life decisions.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 Samuel Harrington (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Well researched, clear-eyed, and brilliantly practical. This is a guide and conversation starter for older Americans seeking control and comfort at the end of life. An antidote to modern overmedicalization that's both simple and sage." (Lucy Kalanithi, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, and author of the epilogue of When Breath Becomes Air, the book by her late husband, Paul Kalanithi)

"Dr. Sam Harrington has provided an invaluable road map for all of us facing the challenge of critical end-of-life decisions for friends, family, and ultimately, ourselves. He demystifies medical terminology with an experienced, transparent, and literate guide for boomers like myself, and for our aging parents. How to have the conversation? When to decide that a caring choice is the decision to avoid repeated hospitalizations and over-testing? Here is a medical expert who puts patients and their welfare first. This is an invaluable addition to the literature." (Andrea Mitchell, anchor and correspondent for NBC News)

"There is no easy way to approach the literally life-and-death questions that are the focus of Samuel Harrington's book. But his spare and graceful clinical tone conveys a deeply humane perspective on choices we all will face. This is a book of wisdom and value for people at any stage of life." (James Fallows, The Atlantic)

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A must read

Dr. Harrington has done a very wise, thoughtful, and well researched job of making sense of many issues no one wants to discuss. He provides clear direction for all of us as we deal with the end of life. His book demonstrates the empowerment of taking charge, providing a greater peace in one’s final days, while eliminating a “medicalized” death. A must read for all.

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A Personal Journey

Dr. Samuel Harrington’s book, “At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life," explores the six most common chronic diseases that lead to death in America (congestive heart failure, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, dementia, and diabetes), how to recognize when one of these illnesses is nearing its natural conclusion, and what options a patient might have other than the aggressive care measures medicine offers. He talks about both his professional experience managing death as a gastrointerologist as well as the personal growth he experienced helping his parents face end-of-life choices. I thought this was well-written, personal, and thought-provoking and have put it out for my patients to read. I would encourage other providers to do the same.