Slow medicine pioneer Dennis McCullough dies

Dennis McCullough, MD, died suddenly Friday.

McCullough was a pioneer of “slow medicine,” a practice that emphasizes hospice and palliative care instead of more invasive treatments for older people. He also coined the term, an adaption of the slow food movement in Italy that emphasizes local production methods over fast food.

He was inspired to re-think end of life care after being diagnosed with a hereditary autoimmune disease and his mother’s death. He wrote in his 2008 book “My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing ‘Slow Medicine,’ the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones” that “slow medicine is not a plan for getting ready to die. It is a plan for understanding, for caring, and for living well in the time that is left.”

McCullough practiced geriatric medicine in Canada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, the Caribbean and Vermont. He was the chief clinical officer in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. He was recruited as the first medical director for continuing care retirement community Kendal at Hanover, N.H.

His wife, poet Pamela Harrison, told The New York Times McCullough suffered a heart attack. He was 72.


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