Family members watch over Leo King at his bedside at the Center for Compassionate Care in Pittsburgh Sept. 7. King, an 84-year-old urologist and veteran of World War II, died the next day with family at his side.

CNS PHOTO | NANCY PHELAN WIECHEC

Family members watch over Leo King at his bedside at the Center for Compassionate Care in Pittsburgh Sept. 7. King, an 84-year-old urologist and veteran of World War II, died the next day with family at his side.

October 1, 2012

The U.S. National Palliative Care Research Center estimates that 90 million Americans are living with serious or life-threatening illnesses and the number is expected to double over the next 25 years.

People nearing the end of life and their families often are confused about the options available to them in terms of pain control and about whether they have an obligation to use all of the life-prolonging technology available to them.

These discussions are particularly lively among Catholics and in the West Coast states where physician-assisted suicide is a legal option.