When caring for older adults with comorbidities, especially those at the extreme upper limits of life, it may be easy for providers to lessen the intensity of their curiosity and medical investigation. For some older individuals’ chronic conditions, the odds of a positive outcome may seem too distant or the patient’s discomfort—or, in many jurisdictions, the financial burden—may act as a barrier to the pursuit of answers.
I have often talked about how important stories are when it comes to medical care. We must, of course, use the best available medical knowledge to benefit our patients, but I believe it is also important to find the humanistic aspects of care and build on them, in order to foster human relationships.The importance of learning the patient’s personal story is key to achieving this goal.
One always hopes that as medical practitioners, we will be able to focus our attention on the medical issues faced by seniors and help families cope with the fears, disappointments and tragedies that are faced by loved ones in the midst of what are often life-altering illnesses.