For most of human history, death was a swift event. In 1945, most deaths occurred quickly at home. Just four decades later, in the 1980s, only 17 percent of Americans died at home, according to Atul Gawande’s 2014 book Being Mortal.
Today, death has increasingly become a battle, a contentious process more so than an inevitable and singular event. Our new normative mortality is a "long, drawn-out death after 85," Sandra Tsing Loh observed in the Atlantic, adding that the demographic experiencing this is also the fastest-growing in the nation and is projected to more than double by 2035. As a result, the final years of life have become increasingly medicalized.
The modern medical industry views death through a misguided lens of human progress and encourages doctors to battle death at any cost — despite the fact that this cost is unsustainable and unreimbursable. Ninety-seven percent of medical students take no course in geriatrics, and only 300 medical students trained in geriatrics in 2015, according to Gawande.
Watching my grandfather die showed me all the problems with how we treat illness in America - Vox