As people get older, their health care goals may shift from living as long as possible to maintaining a good quality of life: quality over quantity.
In many cases, the medical treatment older people receive often doesn’t reflect this change in priorities.
A wide-ranging report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project uses Medicare claims data to examine aging Americans’ health care. Among other things, the researchers found five key areas where too many older people continue to receive treatments that don’t meet established guidelines or, often, their own goals and preferences.
Two of the five have to do with preventive care that may not benefit seniors: screening for breast and prostate cancer. The other three address care at the end of life: late referral to hospice care, time in the intensive care unit in the last six months of life, and the placement of feeding tubes in patients with dementia.