Death is not something most people want to think about, let alone read about in the local newspaper. Reporting on end-of-life issues takes sensitivity, sound editorial judgement, patience and tenacity to develop relationships with patients and families, to share their stories and for them to allow a virtual stranger into their lives during such an intimate time.
Luanne Rife, health reporter at The Roanoke Times, not only wrote extensively about these issues, she gave readers a close-up view of the process through intimate and memorable profiles. Continue reading
Photo: Defining Hope film
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a documentary about end-of-life issues to be uplifting. But at the premiere of a new film about the topic, the audience smiled and laughed. At other times, they fought back tears. Many mentioned a resolve to start talking about their wishes and goals. Continue reading
More than a quarter of older Medicare beneficiaries have yet to document their advance care planning (ACP) wishes, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Latinos, African-Americans, those with lower education levels and people with lower incomes were at greatest risk of not discussing or carrying out ACP.
That leaves many people subject to receiving end of life care that they may not want and may go against their values and wishes, according to Alexander Smith, M.D., senior study author and an associate professor of medicine, geriatrics and palliative care at UCSF. Continue reading
Until the 1920s, most Americans died relatively quickly and at home, surrounded by things and people – including their minister, priest or rabbi – they knew and who knew them. And, because they died where they lived, and among those who cared for them, the fear, pain, relief and release that death brought was common knowledge.
Today, however, death and the dying process are a mystery to most Americans. Only rarely, and usually in a crisis situation, do we get a peek behind the curtain at the anger, fear, pain, guilt, yearning, etc., that dying people experience, whether they are being cared for in a health care facility or at home. Continue reading
While the veil has been lifted somewhat on end-of-life and advance care planning discussions, many providers are still not having conversations with patients and families in time to maximize effective care for chronically and terminally ill patients. At a recent briefing, a coalition of policymakers and experts called on Congress to enact legislation that would ensure that patients and families get comprehensive advanced illness planning and care in the manner, setting, and place of their choosing.
The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), an alliance of 130 organizations promoting better palliative and end of life care, is calling for lawmakers in the Senate to support the bipartisan Care Planning Act, as a means to achieve this. Continue reading