The New York Times

Lessons on Living From My 106-Year-Old Aunt Doris

My Aunt Doris recently passed away, exactly two weeks before her birthday. She would have been 107.

I have been involved in health care for my entire professional life, as a hospital executive, consultant and professor of health care management. But the time spent with my aunt at the end of her life taught me more about living and dying than all my experience had prepared me for.

Doris lived in the same Manhattan apartment for seven decades. For years, she had stubbornly resisted moving into a relative’s home or assisted living community. When she was 103, she had a fall that landed her in the hospital, after which she agreed, reluctantly, to hire a live-in aide.

The aide was caring and capable, but over the next two years, Doris became exceedingly feeble and bedridden, her mind confused. Her breathing grew labored and her voice was practically inaudible when she told my wife, Amy, and me that

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