Health Care Decisions

Antique Apothecary

Information and Guidance

  • Honoring Choices Massachusetts is a collaborative non-profit that provides information and guidance for health care planning and goal setting, choosing an agent, and putting your plan into action. Although the documents provided on the website are specific to the state of Massachusetts, the information about developing a health care plan is broadly applicable.
  • "Reflect on your Values and Beliefs," a section of the Honoring Choices Massachusetts website, includes short videos of people speaking from several different religious perspectives about the connection between religious values and health care. You may wish to explore this issue more deeply with your minister, your family, or trusted friends.
  • Aging with Dignity offers "Five Wishes," a comprehensive booklet for individuals to indicate their wishes for end of life care and for their funeral or memorial service. Five Wishes booklets are widely used by Unitarian Universalist ministers and families.

Perspectives on Medicine, Wellness, and Quality of Life

An important aspect of self-care for older adults is making good medical decisions. Consulting with your physician and your loved ones is paramount in making good decisions, but you may also wish to explore these resources that examine some common medical practices and approaches and suggest alternatives:

  • Living Old, a PBS Frontline program, examines the new realities of aging in the United States and the national health care crisis. View it on line or request it from your public library.
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande (Metropolitan Books, 2014), explores limitations of American medical practices, especially when it come to those nearing the end of life. Argues that the goal is not a good death, but a good life- all the way to the end. Being Mortal, a PBS Frontline program, further explores Gawande's ideas and examines the relationship between doctor and patient near the end of life. View it on line or request it from your public library.
  • Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin (Beacon, 2011), explores the social, medical, and economic ramifications of a health-care system that overdiagnoses and overtreats patients and makes a reasoned call for change that would save us pain, worry, and money. Read an excerpt published in the New York Times on January 24, 2011.