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When death approaches, who decides how far we should go to prolong life?

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We would wish our loved ones to be with us forever. But age brings physical and sometimes mental frailty and a time will come when we have to let go. My mother’s passing in Australia on the final day of August was understandably difficult for me and my family, but, on reflection, for the best. Importantly, I believe she set the terms of her departure.

My mother died almost a month shy of her 88th birthday. Her life had been long and eventful, but in the last five years, marked by an ever-growing list of medical conditions. There was always high blood pressure and a heart murmur, but then came a diagnosis of osteoporosis, a fall that broke her pelvis, fractured bones in her back, diabetes and, in the final months, dementia. Pneumonia was the final straw; it put her back in hospital for the last time and it is there she passed away on a Friday afternoon.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to share meals and gifts with parents. But we also have to think of their health and be prepared for taking care of them in their old age. For that, we will require knowledge, both to cope with the ailments that will arise and to discuss and, if........

© South China Morning Post