Warning: this nymag article is depressing, but a worthwhile read. What I take away from the piece, as it pertains to health care for the elderly, is that oftentimes less is more.
Imagine how much worse the story gets when the decision makers lack the ability to differentiate between "alive" and "living", or have completely unrealistic beliefs in the ability of modern medicine to cure and reverse disease.
The American medico-legal-industrial complex knows only how to push in one direction: more, more, more. If the system is making the decisions, it will never stop. Patients and families need to always remember they can say no to the doctors.