Why I Want My Mother to Die
Michael Wolff on the horrors of the 'no-exit state'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2012 1:59 PM CDT
Updated May 26, 2012 7:50 AM CDT
"We make certain assumptions about the necessity of care," writes Wolff.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Brace yourself: In a remarkable cover piece for New York, Newser founder Michael Wolff invites us into his "unimaginable life"—a reality that's as ubiquitous as it is heart-wrenching. Wolff, in his 50s, has had a front-row seat to his 86-year-old mother's "horror show" for the past year and a half, in which she has been rendered unable to walk, talk, or care for herself, devoid of a short-term memory, and stripped of her dignity. Her care clocks in at $17,000 a month, and the long-term care insurance that she had the foresight to purchase pays for less than a third of that. "This is not just a drawn-out, stoic, and heroic long good-bye. This is human carnage," writes Wolff, and it's left him with "a crushing sense of guilt for keeping her alive."

We hail the medical advances that fuel longevity, but "almost nobody sees this for its ultimate, dismaying, unintended consequence: We have created a new biological status held by an ever-growing part of the nation, a no-exit state that persists longer and longer, one that is nearly as remote from life as death, but which, unlike death, requires vast service, indentured servitude really, and resources." It's left him wishing the so-called death panels truly did exist. "Perhaps they should have been called deliverance panels," he writes. "What I would not do for a fair-minded body to whom I might plead for my mother’s end." And though Wolff devised Newser to tell you everything you need to know in just two paragraphs, you'd be well-served to read his entire piece, which introduces you to his charismatic mother and walks you through her decline and the decisions Wolff and his siblings have made throughout it.

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