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Articles

A selection of articles by Nell Lake. Clicking on a title will take you to the piece.

“Compensating the Kindness of Strangers,” for the Boston Globe.

SIX YEARS AGO, my neighbor Karen had a stroke. Paralyzed on her left side, Karen can’t walk, cook for herself, or use the bathroom. “I have to depend on somebody to do everything for me,” she says.

Yet Karen, 61, who is divorced and without children, has managed to stay in her home — thanks to daily care from Mary, an immigrant from Ghana…

“Elder Hunger: New Efforts to Combat Surprisingly Common Malnutrition Among Seniors,” for CommonHealth/WBUR

After her stroke, a 95-year-old woman in New York State found that she could no longer taste her food. She was also unable to feel hunger, so she didn’t know when she was supposed to eat. As a result, the woman began losing weight, grew weak and wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed…

“Elderly and Drugged: Far More Psych Meds Prescribed to Old Than Young,” for CommonHealth/WBUR

Are we over-treating the elderly with psychiatric drugs?

That’s the natural question arising from a recent report that found adults over 65 are receiving psychotropic medications at twice the rate of younger adults. The study, published in this month’s Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also found that elders are much less likely to get their mental health care from psychiatrists or to receive psychotherapy…

When Caregivers Need Healing”  for Mindful Magazine

Many of us find ourselves caring for loved ones braving old age, decline, and dying. Caregiving is demanding—at times overwhelming. Yet it can also cultivate intimacy, wisdom, and insight…

“Bullying is Ageless: Conflict and Violence Widespread in Nursing Homes, Study Finds,” for CommonHealth

For Eileen, who is disabled and reliant on a wheelchair to get around, life in her nursing home isn’t easy. Particularly when it comes to the other residents…

Midnight Friends: How Wired Patients Are Transforming Chronic Illness,” for CommonHealth

OVER THE YEARS, I’ve watched my cousin Deborah Haber struggle with several chronic, painful medical conditions, including fibromyalgia and a rare incurable disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disease that causes profuse sweating, a high heart rate and insomnia, among its many symptoms.

Largely housebound, and managing the life of her 11-year-old daughter, Deborah faces social isolation and persistent pain…

“Aid-in-Dying Loophole: Advocates Want You to Know You Can Stop Eating,” for CommonHealth

ONE SUNNY DAY in the spring of 2012, Kathleen Klein sat in a car by the California coastline with her 84-year-old mother, Jackie Wilton. The two women had been quietly gazing at the view, watching seagulls along the shore. “I’m ready to go,” Klein recalls her mother saying. “Not go home…Go.”

Klein didn’t need the clarification. Her mother had been speaking of wanting to die for years…

“Study Finds Fivefold Increase in Alzheimer’s Deaths: Why It Matters,” for CommonHealth

CONSIDER a hypothetical 70-year-old woman; she could be your mother, your sister, your wife. Call her Margaret. She’s becoming ever-more forgetful; one day she gets lost on her way home from the grocery store. A neurologist diagnoses Alzheimer’s…

“Labor, Interrupted” for Harvard Magazine

IN MAY 2003 came the joyous birth of Prairie Cummings Resch, first child of Zoe Cummings Resch ’92. All had gone according to plan: Resch lay down on a surgical table. An anesthesiologist inserted an analgesic into her spine, and she became impervious to pain below her waist. The obstetrician pressed a No. 10 blade into Resch’s lower abdomen, and made a six-inch horizontal cut…

“This Man (Or Some Geek Like Him) Will Save the Planet” for Southwest (Airlines) Spirit

IN THE half-finished basement of his parents’ home in the Boston suburb of Lexington, Massachusetts, 21-year-old Michael Easton hunches over a long table, sweat on his brow. He thrusts a putty knife under the surface of a strange object lying on the table. It is an object like no other in the world: an innovative new blade meant to form part of a six-foot-tall residential wind turbine. Easton designed it. . .

“Warily We Roll Along” for Wondertime magazine

ONE SUNNY fall day two friends and I sat in our sprawling local park, feeding snacks to our four-year-olds and watching our seven-year-olds bike along dirt paths. The three older boys pedaled up beside us, and Jasper, Mary’s son, announced, “We’re going to ride around the whole park!”
They’d never done this. It’s a big park, with cars. . .

“A Thousand Flavors” for Shambhala Sun magazine

AT THE ice cream stand, a bored teenaged girl awaited customers, peering out through the window at a nearly empty parking lot. Her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she was perched on a stool, chewing gum. Behind her, steel machines gleamed, white freezers shone. Cool air wafted out from the kitchen toward me, smelling like sugar. The girl turned and asked what I wanted. . .

“Language Wars” for Harvard Magazine

LEST YOU take these English words for granted, consider this: when the United States was founded, only 40 percent of the people living within its boundaries spoke English as their first language. . .