by Philip Moeller
U.S. News & World Report
January 23, 2012
Even the healthiest senior may eventually face serious illness and, of course, death. Seniors know this, and so do their family members and other loved ones. Despite this certainty, we are seldom prepared for late-stage and end-of-life illnesses. And we are even less comfortable talking about them.
Done right, palliative care is an enormous game-changer. It brings openness and fresh air to these topics. It can deliver a range of medical, psychological, social-support, and even spiritual services to patients and family members. It can provide all these resources without costing more money and, in some cases, can even save money by helping people receive care in their homes and not in more costly hospitals. Ideally, it should be available for a broad range of serious but not necessarily life-threatening health conditions.
Most importantly, palliative care and hospice, for those who are near the end of life, have been proven to extend lives and improve the quality of the time remaining for patients and their families. Further, we know what works and how to provide this care. Odds are, however, you have never heard of palliative care or if you have, you aren’t really sure what it means. More
by Michelle Brandt
November 27, 2012
No one likes talking about dying, but Stephanie Pincus, MD, MBA, believes we all need to do more of it. Pincus is one of the key people who participated in the work that resulted in a new Institute of Medicine committee tasked with exploring and preparing a report on the current state of end-of-life care in the country. The committee’s ultimate goal is to ensure that people are able to die as they wish.
“People do not want to die alone, in a hospital bed, hooked up to 15 different machines, with buzzing in their ears. They want to be with their families in familiar surroundings, able to say their good-byes peacefully,” Pincus, who recently gave a talk at the medical school sponsored by the Stanford Palliative Care training program, told me.
“Until about 100 years ago death was part of life. In early times in the U.S. when someone died they were laid out on the kitchen table,” she continued. “But as we moved medical care to the hospital, death became isolated and isolating. We need to reclaim death from the hospital and reintegrate with the family.” More
by Chris Conrad
October 21, 2012
Eighty-seven-year-old Dorella Johnson is tired.
She’s tired of suffering through multiple blood-draws every day to treat the chronic illnesses that have landed her in Providence Medford Medical Center. Her deep and fragile veins make it difficult to insert needles into her arms. Her arms are splotched with large purple and black bruises that stretch from her wrist all the way past her elbow.
She’s tired of spending her days in a hospital bed and not at the Medford home she and her late husband of 68 years, Roger Johnson, lived in for several years.
Her sister Ruth Wineteer came to Medford from her home in Eastern Oregon to be there when a decision was made on Johnson’s fate.
“She told me that she didn’t want any more shots, no more poking,” Wineteer said. “She just said, ‘No more. It hurts.’ ”
Johnson knows she has reached the end of her life and she wants to live out her final days in relative comfort, away from hospitals and doctors. More
by Dana Sitar
October 4, 2012
California State University is tackling a shortage in palliative care workers by launching the first statewide educational and workforce development initiative dedicated specifically to palliative care. With an aging population and an increase in the number of people living with serious illness, health care systems are facing the challenge of providing the care our population needs, and the CSU Institute for Palliative Care will help overcome that challenge.
“Our aging society requires a qualified palliative care workforce that can support people’s desire for quality of life, independence, and choice and control in their health care decisions,” said Joseph Prevratil, CEO and President of Archstone Foundation, which provided initial grant funding for the Institute, along with California HealthCare Foundation.
The CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSU-San Marcos will offer palliative care training for professionals, and it will educate the public about the value of palliative care and how to access it. This public awareness will be invaluable to those who would benefit from palliative care but know so little about it. More