ROAD – Responsible Old Age and Death

With the first waves of the Baby Boomer tsunami lapping at our shores, the time is right for us to begin thinking about how to avoid the over-medicalization of death and aging, so our society doesn’t become bankrupt.  The popularity of Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal”, and Susan Jacoby’s “Never Say Die” are telling us that people are becoming eager to know what they can do to plan (as much as possible) to avoid falling prey to the fallacies promoted by 21st century hucksters of longevity, who want us to believe that a radically new and wonderful old age awaits the Boomer generation.

Gawande says “Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.”
As a Grief Counselor at Hospice of the Piedmont, I often meet bereaved family members whose sorrow is magnified by needless suffering having been imposed on their deceased loved ones by these “heroic measures.”

Imagine my delight at finding a local group called ROAD (Responsible Old Age and Death), a lively and active group dedicated to a responsible old age and timely death for the sake of ourselves, our children and the world. Modern medicine may keep us alive, but as a result, aren’t we  becoming burdens on our families, losing our identity and power, and using up resources needed by the young?  We can prevent a wasteful old age and a futile prolongation of death if we plan now. ROAD offers old age and death education, resources for planning ahead, and a lifestyle concept based on simplicity and the fact the “no one gets out of here alive.”

In an upcoming program called “Preparing for Your Final Journey,” ROAD faculty will offer presentations by a healthcare attorney and a hospice panel, and a chance to explore, in a group setting, your wishes for documents and plans that can ease your last days by getting your house in order. Such a gift to your family and the world.

The eight Sessions begin February 8 and run second and fourth Wednesdays from 2-4PM at the Quaker Meeting House on Forest Avenue in Charlottesville. All are welcome. Please contact Shirley Paul for information and to register; [email protected]. And visit the ROAD website you see what else they’re up to, at

-Shirley Paul

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