Welcome to the new Care Partners website and weekly blog. We’d like to start off with a wonderful article by Dr. Atul Gawande. It was written for the New Yorker in 2010, but it’s still completely relevant today.
Yes, it’s a long read – but don’t miss his discussion of how hospice care has been shown to extend the life of some patients for weeks to months vs. active treatment – and to have similar outcomes as active treatment for many others. It was a surprise to him because he assumed, like most people, that hospice is all about using opioids to ease people into death. While pain control is important for quality of life, it is far from the only management tool available. As a non-profit hospice and palliative provider, we’ve developed our diagnosis-specific programs to give people both active support and comfort, even though it costs more and requires more staff training.
A key point of his article is that everyone needs to have an Advance Healthcare Directive – even those in “perfect health”. Thinking about your wishes, discussing them with family and friends, and writing them down can seem like a downer, but it doesn’t have to be! Have a party with the beverages of your choice and share ideas and opinions about the inevitable that awaits all of us. Or find a public “death café” event if that is more your style. Either way, people say that the peace of mind they have after they’re done makes the whole effort worthwhile. And that doesn’t even include the benefits for family members who would otherwise be pressured and conflicted about what to do, at a time when they are under huge stress. So don’t wait! The end of the year is a great time to connect and to put something in place for a smooth start to 2020