KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Alleviating Loneliness Can Aid Recovery: Calif. Hospital Pairs Older Patients With Companions

In other news on care for the aging population, Californians debate if people with Alzheimer's should be excluded from the state's new aid-in-dying law. And opinions about surgery for older lung cancer patients is changing.

NPR: Hospital Companions Help Combat Loneliness For Older Patients
Loneliness can be a problem for older people, especially when they're in the hospital. Their children may have moved away. Spouses and friends may themselves be too frail to visit. So a California hospital is providing volunteer companions in the geriatric unit. One of the volunteers at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica is 24-year-old Julia Torrano. She hopes to go to medical school. Meanwhile, her twice-weekly volunteer shifts give her a lot of practice working with patients. (Jaffe, 11/21)

San Jose Mercury News: Should Alzheimer's Victims Be Excluded From California's Right-To-Die Law?
Since California’s controversial new law went into effect in the late spring, it has allowed approximately 150 state residents suffering from terminal illnesses to get physicians to prescribe a lethal prescription drug. But for many Californians who fear wasting away slowly over years, the law falls short. The reason: The law requires someone to make a competent decision to die, which patients with dementia clearly can’t do. (Wessel and Seipel, 11/18)

NPR: Older Lung Cancer Patients Can Benefit From Surgery
Every year when Morton Pollner had his checkup, he worried that doctors would find something on his lung. For years, they didn't. Then his luck ran out. "My reaction was, 'Well, you smoked for 30 years. You got away with it for another 30 years and this is it.' I thought it was a death sentence," he says. (Neighmond, 11/21)

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