William Coch, M.D.
For more than 30 years Dr. Coch has been a gerontologist and general practitioner in Andover, N.Y., a rural community with a large elderly population. Through his many years of service and frequent home visits, he has come to know his patients and their families very well. Here, he discusses what the goals should be in treating the "old-old," what it means to die a "good death," and why community and family involvement is key to the quality of care for many elderly.
Mary Ann DiBerardino
Hers is a universal family story. Mary Ann's parents, Chester and Rosemary Haak, came into a nursing home in rural New York state so that her dad could recover from a hospitalization. But because of his wife's worsening dementia and his own struggles with Parkinson's disease, the two were never able to leave. Mary Ann, a nurse, and her husband Bill, who is retired, together with other family members, have struggled to help her parents make the heartbreaking decisions necessitated by their progressive frailty and dependence.
Jeffrey Farber, M.D.
A geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Farber participates in its Visiting Doctors Program, in which doctors make house calls to elderly and homebound patients. He talks about the challenge of caring for the "older old" -- those over 85; the national shortage of geriatricians; and the difficulties of balancing clinical care with quality of life.
Lillian Gleason, R.N.
As a nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Lillian Gleason has 15 to 20 patients at a time in New York City who are homebound because of frailty and health problems. Most are elderly -- some are very old -- and they usually have multiple chronic illnesses. She talks about the home care required for such patients, what families who are caregivers go through, and how growing old has changed.
Leon Kass, M.D.
A bioethicist, Dr. Kass chaired (2002-2005) the President's Council on Bioethics, which issued the landmark report, "Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society." The study called attention to the critical social problem of an increasingly elderly population, many of whose members need intensive, expensive, long-term care in a society with a dwindling number of available caregivers. In this interview, Dr. Kass talks about how our society has not yet faced up to this coming crisis, especially its human dimensions.
David Muller, M.D.
The dean of medical education at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, Dr. Muller is one of the founders of its Visiting Doctors Program, which provides care for homebound patients who can't get to regular medical checkups. Soon after the program started, it became clear that the people who stood to benefit the most were the elderly, particularly those of very advanced age. Dr. Muller talks about principles that should guide doctors in treating the elderly, the impact of caregiving on families, and what needs to change in the health care system to address the increasing "old-old" population. He also discusses end-of-life decisions, where to draw the line when they arise, and how he tries to help patients and their families understand their choices.
She represents our greatest hopes for living old to our fullest capacity. At the time of this interview, she was 94 and still working every day as a stockbroker. She was the widowed mother of two, a daughter and a son, who lived near her in Manhattan, and the grandmother of three, including Miri Navasky, producer of this report. She offers some wise thoughts about life, aging and the ties of love and family.