By Alex Branch
September 9, 2012
Chaplain David Lowe has seen his share of grief-stricken family members at the bedsides of hospitalized loved ones in the final stage of life.
He has watched sons, daughters and spouses buckle under the pressure of difficult decisions, such as whether to keep that loved one on life support after doctors say they see no hope of recovery.
Those circumstances add extra stress and anxiety that, in Lowe’s view, often could be lessened if the patient and family had previously discussed what kind of care he or she wanted in those final days.
It’s why Lowe is promoting public workshops in Tarrant County this fall intended to help families prepare for end-of-life care options.
“When someone finds themselves suddenly in that role of decision maker during a major illness or hospitalization, it is laden with emotion and a very hard place to be,” said Lowe, director of pastoral care for the western region of the Baylor Health Care System. “I tell folks it doesn’t have to be that way. We want to move people out of the role of decision maker and more into a role of a spokesman, or an advocate, for their loved ones’ wishes.”
The Coalition for Quality End of Life Care, an Arlington-based organization, will present the workshops, which cover advance care planning, powers of attorney, wills, guardianship, funeral planning and financial benefits.
The workshops, which start Saturday, are free, though attendees are encouraged to register in advance, said Diane Wolfe, who is handling publicity for the events.
The subject matter is something that many people prefer to avoid, said Dr. Kendra Belfi, a recently retired Fort Worth internal medicine and geriatrics physician.
A 2008 report to Congress by the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that between 18 and 36 percent of the adult population had completed advance care directives.
“Advances in medical care and technology during the latter half of the 20th century have prolonged life expectancy in the United States,” the report concluded. “However, these same advances have blurred the boundary between life and death, challenging our expectations about how Americans could experience the end of life.” More