EOLPodcast

Ep. 319 At the Bedside: Tools for Caring for the Dying with Gabrielle Elise Jimenez

Learn how this hospice nurse and end-of-life doula is making a difference by sharing the tools she has learned.

My guest Gabrielle Elise Jimenez is a hospice nurse, end-of-life doula and conscious dying educator. She is also the author of three books intended to teach others how to provide care to their own dying loved ones. She talks about the tools she feels are most important for caregivers to learn and she also shares information about her Facebook page that exploded with new members when people started posting about their grief. Learn more about her books and courses at her website:

www.thehospiceheart.net

Get her books here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Gabby ended up becoming a hospice nurse and an end-of-life doula
  • The tools needed to care for a dying loved one at home
  • How to help families with grief in hospice
  • How Gabby tapped into the huge need for grief support that exists in our world right now
  • Advice for healthcare professionals who need to recognize their own grief
  • How to stay in balance while doing emotionally challenging work
  • The impact of COVID on hospice workers
  • 3 things everyone should know about death and dying
  • How to live our best lives by recognizing that we will die one day

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 317 It’s Your Funeral! A “Fun” Guide to Planning for the End with Kathy Benjamin

Learn about a helpful and humorous workbook for funeral planning.

My guest Kathy Benjamin is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on various sites including Uproxx, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket, and Cracked.com. She is the author Funerals to Die For and the recently released It’s Your Funeral: Plan the Celebration of a Lifetime Before it’s Too Late. She shares how she got interested in writing about funerals and some of the fascinating facts she’s learned over time about the importance of funerals throughout history and across all societies. We also discuss her set-by-step guide to creating a great funeral. Connect with Kathy at her website:

www.KathyBenjamin.com

Get It’s Your Funeral here.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Kathy got inspired to write two books about funerals
  • How she did research for the topics in the book
  • Why funerals are important and how it helps to plan one in advance
  • Some of the components of a good funeral to consider in your planning:
    • Venue
    • Funeral roles
    • Theme
    • Eulogy
    • Burial options
  • Interesting funeral traditions from around the world
  • Challenges for funeral planning during the pandemic
  • Why It’s Your Funeral could be a good humorous gift for a milestone birthday
  • How to use the book to get started on planning your funeral now

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Follow Kathy on social media:
    • Facebook: facebook.com/kab18
    • Twitter: @KathyBenjamin

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 315 “Deep Dive” Part 1: Hospice and EOL Doulas with Deanna Cochran RN

Learn the “long-view” of end-of-life care and how hospice care has changed over time to now include death doulas.

My guest Deanna Cochran is a registered nurse with certification in hospice and palliative care who has served as a private EOL doula since 2005, so she is truly a pioneer in the movement. She is the founder of the CareDoula® School of Accompanying the Dying and the author of “Accompanying the Dying: Practical, Heart-Centered Wisdom for End-of-Life Doula and Healthcare Advocates.” Today we begin a “deep-dive” conversation that covers our experiences in nursing and medical training, hospice of the past vs today’s hospice, and why death doulas are so important right now. Tune in next week for Part 2 of our discussion! Learn more about Deanna’s work and the trainings she offers at her website:

www.certifiedcaredoula.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Deanna was first introduced to sitting vigil by her grandmother
  • The lack of death training in nursing and medical schools
  • Why we have to be aware of our own suffering before we can sit with the suffering of others
  • Why death doulas are needed now more than ever in our busy and understaffed healthcare system
  • How hospice care has changed over the years
  • What to do if you are receiving inadequate care from a hospice
  • How the medical system falls short of whole-person care by focusing primarily on the physical aspect of patients
  • Why personal experience matters a great deal in caring for the dying
  • The value of stillness and being quiet in end-of-life care

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest supporters Alix Lutnick and Nancy Kendrick! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 307 Life.Death.Whatever: We All Know How This Ends with Anna Lyons and Louise Winter

Learn how an EOL doula and funeral director in the UK have teamed up to creatively shift the conversation around death and dying.

My guests Anna Lyons and Louise Winter are the creative team behind the popular Life.Death.Whatever initiative to redesign the dialogue around death and dying. Anna is an end-of-life doula and Louise is a progressive funeral director in the UK. They share how their partnership has allowed them to address the full spectrum of end-of-life issues from terminal diagnosis to the dying process to after-death care and bereavement–all of which are beautifully covered in their newly released book We All Know How This Ends: Lessons About Life and Living from Working with Death and Dying. Learn more at their website:

www.lifedeathwhatever.com

Follow on Instagram: @lifedeathwhat

Get the book here

Listen here

This episode includes:

  • How Anna and Louise teamed up to create Life.Death.Whatever
  • The inspiration behind writing this book
  • How they developed two projects for public participation: Five Things and Unsaid
  • Why it is important to create links between end-of-life and after-death care
  • Sensitive or “taboo” topics covered in the book like sex during illness and at the end of life and what happens to the body during decomposition and cremation
  • Why they included COVID in their new book and the importance of acknowledging the pandemic when we talk about end-of-life issues
  • How to submit your own writing for Five Things or Unsaid
  • The most surprising things they’ve learned about life through working with death

Eat the gelato – especially if it’s salted caramel.”

from We All Know How this Ends by Anna Lyons and Louise Winter

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Submit your Five Things or Unsaid writing to submissions@lifedeathwhatever.com
  • Sign up for the 2021 online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously at this link
  • Support your local bookstore by buying my books on Bookshop and Indiebound: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying and The Journey from Ego to Soul
  • Subscribe to this podcast on AppleGoogleSpotifyiHeart RadioStitcher Radio
  • Check out the Series I’ve recorded in the past here
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and get access to the EOLU mug“Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference!

EOLPodcast

Ep. 283 Reshaping the Future of Advance Care Planning with Patty Burgess, Fred Mirarchi MD and Sheila Schultz

Learn about video advance directives and how to get involved in this game-changing innovation for the future of advance care planning.

In this episode I host three guests – Patty Burgess, Dr. Fred Mirarchi, and Sheila Schultz – who have partnered together to create MIDEO University, the only organization to train and certify Advance Care Planning Educators (ACPE’s) in every community. They share how MIDEO’s video advance directives are revolutionizing end-of-life and emergency care in hospitals and how they are training doulas, advance care planners and other healthcare professionals to become paid educators using the MIDEO approach. Learn more at their website:

www.YourVoiceDirectives.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What MIDEO is and why Dr. Mirarchi was inspired to create a video advance directive
  • How Patty and Sheila became inspired to partner with Dr. Mirarchi to create an educational program for end-of-life doulas and other healthcare professionals
  • How MIDEO works and what differentiates it from other advance directives
  • How certification as an ACPE can benefit an end-of-life doula professionally
  • Why advance care planning should not focus solely on end-of-life scenarios
  • Why video directives are important during this time of the COVID pandemic
  • How an ACPE can benefit primary care health providers in their work with patients
  • How to participate in MIDEO University and become certified as an ACPE

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 228 Training End-of-Life Doulas for the World with Suzanne O’Brien RN

Learn how you can get involved (for free) as a host for World Training Day and spread the word about how to care for people at the end of life.

My guest today is Suzanne O’Brien RN, hospice and oncology nurse and the founder of Doulagivers.com. She discusses how end-of-life doulas will change death and dying now and in the future and how she started World Training Day in 2019 to meet the needs of communities around the world for end-of-life training. Learn how you can get involved this year and host an event on 4/20/2020. Get more information at the World Training Day website:

www.worldtrainingday.org

Download Suzanne’s handout:

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is an “end-of-life doula”
  • Why death is not a medical experience but a human experience
  • How EOL doulas can help with the current and future caregiver shortage
  • 3 levels of training for doulas
  • How advance planning leads to a good end of life
  • How EOL doula training is useful for everyone, including teachers, navigators and hospice workers
  • Online training available for level 1 doulas through Doulagivers.com
  • Why presence is one of the greatest gifts we can give to patients at the end of life
  • How to get involved (for FREE) in World Training Day on 4/20/2020 – anyone can be a host; sign up by January 20, 2020
  • Where to host a WTD event and how you can benefit from being a host
  • The ripple effect of planting seeds about end-of-life issues

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest Patrons: Joyce Miller, Megan Carmichael, and Lynn; your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 171 The Best Gift You Can Give Your Family This Holiday Season

Learn how planning ahead and being ready for the unexpected can be a special gift for your loved ones this year.

PodcastEOLplans

 

During the holidays we all want to find the perfect gift for our family members that will show them our love and bring joy to their lives. But face it … in this age of consumerism most people already have more possessions than they need and we have sadly littered our planet with excessive material goods that no one wants or can use. Here’s an idea for a gift you can give now that will bring peace of mind and relief to your loved ones some day in the future: plan ahead for the end of your life, gather your most important documents, and have a conversation with the people closest to you about your wishes. 

Download the Checklist for this episode here: 

BE Ready

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Support this podcast on Patreon.com/eolu with a small monthly contribution. Thank you to my latest patron Jensen A! Your generosity is much appreciated!

View the latest webinar with Jane Barton: Collaborative Care for Caregivers – How to Ask for Help at this link:

Collaborative Care Webinar

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Creating an end-of-life file that contains all of your most important documents along with your wishes for healthcare and after-death care is a task that will benefit you as well as your loved ones in the future. You will be saving them from a great deal of stress and frustration if they won’t have to search for your papers or guess what you might want for yourself  when you reach the end of life. Why not use the holiday season as a motivator to complete your file and offer as a gift of love to your family!

This episode includes:

  • Ideas for storing your documents
  • Why it’s important to gather important information in one place so your loved ones can find it
  • Why you need to complete your advance directive (or living will) and choose a healthcare proxy now rather than later
  • The benefits of planning your funeral and burial in advance
  • How to view end-of-life planning as a gift of love for those who care about you

Links mentioned in this episode:

Tune in next Monday for another new episode. If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes.

Until next time …

Face Your Fear           BE Ready           Love Your Life

karen-signature

 

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 159 How to Make Difficult End-of-Life Decisions for a Loved One

PodcastDecisions

 

 

purposequestionIn this episode I share my thoughts on how to approach the very difficult task of making an end-of-life decision about the treatment a loved one should receive. Many people are called upon to be decision-makers in these challenging situations and this episode serves as a guide for choosing the best option for someone we love. Download the handout below:

Guide for Difficult EOL Decisions

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

This episode is sponsored by Suzanne O’Brien and her training program for caring for others at the end of life at Doulagivers.com and by your generous donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Join the team and receive special bonuses as a thank-you!

Thank you to all of my patrons and sponsors! Your support means everything to me!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Download the handout here:

Guide for Difficult EOL Decisions

Every day families are called upon to make nearly impossible decisions about the type of care a loved one should receive as they near the end of life. Here are some suggestions for how to navigate this challenging situation when there is no advance directive available for guidance:

  • Gather medical information from all healthcare providers involved in care
  • Ask direct questions:
    • What is the diagnosis and what complications have occurred?
    • What is the effectiveness of the recommended treatment?
    • What are the chances for recovery or improvement?
    • Are there side effects from the treatment or will it cause additional suffering?
    • What will happen if treatment is stopped?
    • What would you do if this were your loved one?
  • Get expert advice and guidance from a palliative care team if available in your hospital
  • Remember past conversations with your loved one that might give you clues as to his or her preferences for the end of life
  • Consider the statistics that most Americans prefer to die at home and most do not want aggressive treatment to prolong life in the face of an incurable condition
  • Ask your loved one for guidance by expressing your concern and your desire to make the best decision. Even though your loved one cannot verbalize, they can hear you – listen for any intuitive or “felt” guidance that might come to you about the best choice to make.
  • Be gentle with yourself and recognize that you have done your best in a challenging situation
  • Seek support from others outside your family

Tune in next week for another episode! Share this content with others who might it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.

Until next time …

Face Your Fear        BE Ready         Love Your Life

karen-signature

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 78 Change Happens: How to be Prepared for the Ultimate Transition

What does it take to be ready and at peace when you reach the end of life? Here are some thoughts on how to prepare.

 

podcastroadmap

In this episode we’ll take a look at what you need to do to prepare for the future, particularly the end of life. You’ll find out how to BE Ready for whatever life brings your way!

ANNOUNCEMENT:

slide01The Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning Course is finally available! Click here to learn more.

This 4-module course is like having your own personal consultation with an end-of-life physician (me!) who guides you through completing your paperwork one step at a time!

Check it out!

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is sponsored through the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. By contributing just $1 or $2 per month you can help support the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series. If you  become a supporter I will happily promote your book, website, cause or organization on a future episode of the podcast! THANK YOU to my latest patron Sylvie and to all current patrons!!

IN THE NEWS:

  1. Facebook announces it will offer employees up to 20 days of paid bereavement leave and 6 weeks of paid leave to care for an ill loved one.
  2. A study done by U of Colorado Anschutz showed that oncologists are reluctant to have conversations with patients about their prognosis and patients seem equally unwilling to discuss the difficult facts about their diagnosis. This demonstrates the need for better preparation for the end of life BEFORE the onset of a life-limiting illness.

Change Happens: How to be Prepared for the Ultimate Transition

17153795 - are you ready illustration design over a white backgroundWhat steps should you take now to be fully prepared for later life? I like to break them down into 3 categories: Paperwork, People, and Purpose.

Here are some suggestions for your own preparations:

  1. Paperwork:
  • Make sure you have completed an estate plan and/or will to protect your financial assets
  • Appoint someone to be your financial power of attorney AND a separate  person as your medical power of attorney
  • Complete your advance directive (or living will)
  • Plan for your funeral and burial
  • Gather important documents, account numbers, passwords, etc. into on file where they will be accessible in the future (Check out the BE Ready Checklist for a list of all these documents you should gather)

2. People:

  • Tie up “loose ends” in your life by practicing forgiveness
  • Make amends with the people closest to you
  • Say “I love you” whenever you have the opportunity
  • Talk with your loved ones about your healthcare wishes
  • Talk with your doctors (and also spiritual advisor or attorney if relevant) about your end-of-life wishes
  • Be prepared to care for an ill or dying loved one at home if that should become necessary

3. Purpose:

  • Think about your own sense of meaning and purpose in life–are you living life fully in each moment?
  • Practice being present in the moment by taking up mindfulness or using deep breathing
  • Recognize that your purpose is not really something you hope to accomplish in the future; it lies in how you live your life each moment
  • Face your fear of death so that you can fully prepare and then relax and enjoy all that your life offers to you

Click here to download the End-of-Life Preparedness Assessment to see if you are ready!

Tune in every Monday for a new episode. Until the next time, remember:

Face Your Fears.                     BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

karen-signature

 

 

EOLPodcast, Hospice, Spirituality

Ep. 77 Managing Family Conflict at the End of Life

What do you do when a family (your own or a patient’s) is crumbling due to unhealed resentments and irreconcilable differences? Find out now.

conflictpodcast

 

In today’s episode I’ll share my best tips for helping families move through conflict toward resolution during stressful times like the death of a loved one. I’ve had lots of experience with this work during my years as a hospice doctor so be prepared for a longer-than-usual episode!

Announcements:

slide01My new course Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning is almost ready for release (just a few days away as I record this!) The course is simple yet comprehensive and will help you examine your mindset, values, beliefs, and fears about death before you make decisions about your end-of-life healthcare. Go to eoluniversity.com/roadmap to learn more and sign up to be notified as soon as the course is released.

Sponsorship:

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is sponsored through the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. By contributing just $1 or $2 per month you can help support the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series. If you  become a supporter I will happily promote your book, website, cause or organization on a future episode of the podcast! THANK YOU to all current patrons!!

Managing Family Conflict at the End of Life:

Families facing the death of a loved one are particularly prone to be divided by the resurgence of old conflicts and resentments. Over my years as a hospice doctor I have seen many families split apart by their differences at a time when they most need to be united.

Most of these families had longstanding grievances that had been buried and ignored over the years, only to rise to the surface under the stress of a loved one’s death. Sibling rivalries, parental favoritism, divorce, and competition for inheritances are the most common reasons for these resentments. In addition many families are also divided over religious and political differences, which is an especially prevalent problem right now.

One of the important functions of hospice staff members and other end-of-life workers is to assist splintered families with healing and resolution of their conflicts, whenever possible. But sometimes we are called to assist our own families when challenges arise. Here are some tips for being a peacemaker for a fractured family:

  • Remain neutral on the issues of conflict. As much as possible leave your own biases, preferences and beliefs at the door if you hope to help resolve a disagreement. This will be much easier if you are not emotionally entangled in the conflict. But even if you are, you need to learn to become a “Witness” to the situation (a higher state of consciousness that allows you remain detached.)
  • Listen to all sides of the argument. Spend time with each person involved in the conflict until you can grasp their perspective. If you are part of the disagreement then at least try to understand the point of view of the others involved in the situation. As soon as you begin to understand how and why the others feel the way they do then you have taken a huge step toward reconciliation.
  • Avoid trigger topics. Political and religious differences may complicate family conflicts at the end of life but are usually not reconcilable. So it is best to “agree to disagree” about these points of view and set them aside so that the focus can be on healing other issues.
  • Be present. By staying calm and unemotional you can prevent the conflict from escalating into an all-out war. Practice mindfulness to help strengthen your ability to be present so that your own emotions don’t flare up when you are trying to help others.
  • Find common ground. As you listen carefully to the stories of each opponent in the disagreement you may recognize certain common threads–areas where they actually share the same perspective without realizing it. Gather these threads so that you can remind those in conflict that are some things they have in common. Help them untie around the things that matter most (like doing what’s best for their loved one.)
  • Learn the wishes of the dying loved one (if possible.) If you can still communicate with the patient you may find out that she has a wish for her family to reconcile. You can use this wish to help draw the combatants together in their desire to please and comfort the one they love. Let the patient’s wishes become a “magnet” around which the rest of the family gradually comes together.
  • Have patience. Don’t try to force a reconciliation by rushing into a family conference or intervention. Allow for some separation initially and let the gaps between individuals gradually begin to close.

The bottom line is that families who don’t wait until the end of life to resolve their differences have a much easier time negotiating the challenges of death and dying. But that’s not the case for most families. Most are left to rehash old sibling issues, betrayals, disappointments, and wounds during the last days of their loved one’s life when they should be sitting at the bedside offering love and comfort.

Start working through your own resentments now–practice love and forgiveness earlier in life and your final days will be blessed. If you need extra help consider checking out the Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning or the book What Really Matters. You’ll find guidance and support from me for your journey!

slide01       wrmflatcover

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.                 BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 75 Perfect Your Paperwork: Mistakes to Avoid in Your End-of-Life Planning

It’s not enough to get your paperwork done … make sure it’s done right!

eolmistakes

In this episode we’ll look at several common mistakes people make when doing their advance directives–mistakes that could make it more difficult for their end-of-life wishes to be carried out. Learn how to get your paperwork right so you can relax!

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is supported through the generous donations of listeners made on Patreon.com/eolu. When you donate just $1 or $2 per month I will thank you by mentioning your name on the podcast and promoting your cause!

Thank you to my latest patron: Jayne Boulton–I appreciate your support Jayne!

In the News:

An online article from Managed Healthcare Executive asks the question: Can Data Analytics Aid in End-of-Life Care Decisions? The author cites a recent study from JAMA that shows 70% of MD’s reporting that they have not been trained to have end-of-life conversations with patients and 73% of patients over the age of 65 have never had an advance care planning discussion with a doctor.

Medical data analysts have suggested that EHR’s might be useful to help health systems identify patients in need of end-of-life conversations. The article points out that current management of advance directives on EHR’s is poor since on average it requires clicks on 12 different screens to locate a patient’s AD, which takes 1.3 minutes–not fast enough in an emergency situation. In addition many patients at the end of life experience more than 3 transfers to different facilities and their paperwork is often lost in the process.

Much work needs to be done to help patients get their wishes met at the end of life! For that reason I have created a NEW online course to guide people through creating their advance directives, making them legal,  and having conversations with loved ones and doctors about their wishes.

slide01The course “Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning” is self-paced and can be completed any time, anywhere.

I’ve written the course to help people be prepared mentally and emotionally to make end-of-life decisions and avoid the common mistakes discussed below.

Learn more about the course at www.eoluniversity.com/Roadmap.

Common mistakes in end-of-life planning include:

  • Putting it off for a later time
  • Not completing the forms entirely
  • Choosing contradictory options on the forms
  • Choosing the wrong healthcare proxy
  • Getting lost in the details of possible scenarios at the end of life
  • Not discussing plans with the doctor
  • Not expressing wishes to loved ones
  • Not updating end-of-life preferences over time

The Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning is designed to avoid all of these mistakes and to aid in making the right choices for future healthcare needs.

Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! Until next week:

Face Your Fears.                      BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

 

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 64 It’s Okay to Die with Monica Williams-Murphy MD

 

Join Dr. Karen Wyatt, the host of Death Expo, in this conversation with emeregency room physician Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy, author of the award-winning book It’s OK to Die. They will discuss Dr. Williams-Murphy’s mission “to create conditions in which people: plan ahead, make their peace, understand that it is OK to die naturally, and make educated choices which allow them to pass away peacefully and comfortably surrounded by those who love them most.”

In this interview you will learn:

  • the tragic consequences of being unprepared for the end-of-life
  • the factors that have contributed to our cultural change in attitude toward death and dying
  • how to prepare for the death of a loved one – understanding the physical changes associated with dying
  • how to make peace with death and let go at the end-of-life
  • what doctors need to know in order to offer better care at the end-of-life

Support this podcast and End-of-Life University Interview Series by donating at Patreon.com/eolu!

 

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 58 Why Some Doctors Struggle With the End of Life

Click here to read the companion blog on Huffington Post.

In this episode Dr. Karen Wyatt discusses the fact that according to the Nebraska End-of-Life Survey, even though 70% of patients surveyed want their doctors to discuss their end-of-life options but only 21% of them have actually had those conversations.

In addition, while 86% of doctors agree that they themselves would enroll in hospice if terminally ill, only 27% of them are comfortable discussing hospice as an option with terminally ill patients.

There is a huge disconnect between what patients want from their doctor and what they receive and also what doctors would do for themselves at the end-of-life and what they do for their patients.

Today’s conversation looks at reasons for this disconnect to point the way toward changes that are needed in how medicine approaches the end of life. Here are some of the attitudes and mindsets that make it difficult for some doctors to address death and dying, based on conversations between Dr. Wyatt and her colleagues:

  • “It’s not my job. My passion is for saving lives.” Ideally doctors must maintain their passion for life, but must also make room for death, since every patient will ultimately die. Doctors need to cultivate a view of life that includes the reality of death.
  • “I don’t have enough time and the end of life is less important than other issues I’m expected to discuss with patients.” The average primary care visit with an elderly patient last 15.7 minutes and covers 6 topics. Doctors need to view the end of life as the final stage of development and give it the same attention as the other stages of development.
  • “Death represents failure.” While death in general is a natural process and not a failure, for doctors the death of a patient can be a devastating experience, especially if it is unexpected. Doctors carry an enormous burden of responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their patients and mistakes can lead to complications and death. For doctors it is difficult to carry both responsibilities: to preserve life and promote health while also honoring death in its place.
  • “I don’t want to take away my patient’s hope.” Many doctors recognize that optimism and positivity are essential for a patient’s survival and wellbeing. But they view curative treatments as the source of that hope while failing to recognize that hope has many different meanings for patients. They promote ongoing treatment in order to keep hope alive while failing to offer emotional and spiritual support that can foster hope even in the face of death.

By recognizing the obstacles that keep doctors from engaging in end-of-life interactions with patients we can help overcome them over time. It’s important to have compassion for everyone involved as we try to move forward and evolve care at the end of life in our society.

You can support EOLU by making a small pledge of financial support ($1 or $2 per month) at Patreon.com/eolu. Be sure to tune in every Monday for a new episode, leave comments and write reviews on iTunes! Remember to:

Face Your Fears.           BE Ready.              Love Your Life.

 

 

Aging, End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 57 September End-of-Month Update and film Extremis

 

In today’s episode Dr. Wyatt thanks 3 new supporters on Patreon.com/eolu:

  • Joan Roellchen-Pfohl, RN
  • Martha Johnson – author of the upcoming book “Take Charge of the Rest of Your Life”; learn more at www.meetmarthajohnson.com
  • Marggie Hatala – author and teacher of a writing class related to end of life; her books are “Sally: A Memoir” and the forthcoming “Life as Prayer”; learn more at www.marggiehatala.com

Next she begins the Update for September by talking about the new documentary film currently streaming on Neflix: Extremis, which won 1st place at the Tribeca Film Festival. Please see this film which takes place in the ICU at Highland Hospital in Oakland and features Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter. This is a must-see film that brilliantly depicts the conundrum that exists at the end of life when painful decisions must be made. By showing the real-life conversations that take place in the ICU between staff, family members and patients, a case is made for everyone to complete their advance directives and prepare their loved ones to honor their wishes at the end of life. But the painful process of decision-making becomes apparent as each individual struggles with the unknown and the unknowable in these dire situations.

The other topics covered this month include:

  • BMJ Online report that patients who receive hospice care for the last 6 months of life have better pain control, fewer hospital days, and are less likely to die in the hospital or ICU.
  • Researchers at John Hopkins found that their palliative care program led to  savings of ~ $19 million over 5 years in addition to improved quality of care and patient satisfaction.
  • Study originally published in Health Affairs and reported on Reuters online showed gaps in palliative care in the US. Read the article.
  • “What it feels like to die,” an article in The Atlantic discusses the active dying process from the patient’s perspective. Read the article.
  • Friends and Family Letter Project by Dr. VJ Periyakoil at Stanford includes 7 prompts for letter writers to leave messages for their loved ones. Read the article.
  • “7 Songs for a Long Life” documentary from Scotland that depicts how terminally ill patients use singing as therapy. Read the article.
  • The Friendly Atheist Julie Stahl reminds us not to impose our own religious or spiritual beliefs on those who are grieving and may not share your perspective. Read her blog.

Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! I hope you enjoy this information. If you feel inspired to offer a little support go to Patreon.com/eolu to join the community!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.               BE Ready.               Love Your Life!!!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief, Hospice, Spirituality

Ep. 56 End-of-Life Book Showcase!

In this episode Dr. Karen Wyatt highlights several excellent books about the end of life that have been sent to her by their authors. If you have considered starting an end-of-life book club (as mentioned in Episode 33) you’ll find many great books to choose from in this list. Here are the book titles and authors, along with links for learning more or purchasing the books:

  • “My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive”; by Anne Elizabeth Denny; www.anneelizabethdenny.com
  • “LastingMatters Organizer: Where Loved Ones Find What Matters Most”; by Barbara Bates Sedoric: www.lastingmatters.com
  • “Caring for Dying Loved Ones: A Helpful Guide for Families and Friends”; by Joanna Lillian Brown; www.caringfordyinglovedones.com
  • “Caregivers: Angels Without Wings”; by Peg Crandall; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Changing the Way We Die: Compassionate End-of-Life Care and the Hospice Movement”; by Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died”; by Karen B. Kaplan; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Spirit Matters: How to Remain Fully Alive with a Life-Limiting Illness”; by Judy Flickinger; www.judyflickinger.com
  • “Spiritual Perspectives on Death & Dying”; by Bernice H. Hill, PhD; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond”; by Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Daddy this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad”; by Julie Saeger Nierenberg; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief”; by Elaine Mansfield; www.elainemansfield.com
  • “Laughing in a Waterfall: A Mother’s Memoir”; by Marianne Dietzel; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Turn Right, Good Moon: Conversations With a Dying Mother”; by L. E. Moore; www.turnrightgoodmoon.com
  • “She Would Draw Flowers: Poems from a Young Artist Awakening to Life, Love and Death”; by Kirsten Savitri Bergh; Link to Amazon.com
  • “And Now, Still: Grave & Goofy Poems and a Bit of Prose”; by Reggie Marra; www.reggiemarra.com
  • “Facing Darkness, Finding Light: Life After Suicide”; by Steffany Barton, RN; Link to Amazon.com
  • “What to Do When You’re Dead: A Former Atheist Interviews the Source of Infinite Being”; by Sondra Sneed; Link to Amazon.com

I hope you’ll check out these amazing and inspirational books and include some of them in your book club or add them to your library!

 

EOLPodcast

Ep. 55 How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Your End-of-Life Wishes

Today Dr. Karen Wyatt discusses how to start an end-of-life planning conversation with your healthcare provider. She suggests the following:

  • Don’t wait for your provider to bring it up – initiate the conversation yourself
  • Schedule a dedicated appointment for advance care planning rather than trying to add it on to a regular visit or wellness exam
  • Be prepared by completing either The Conversation Starter Kit or the SMART Decisions Challenge before your visit
  • Choose your healthcare proxy in advance and make sure that person is willing to serve this role on your behalf
  • Print your paperwork in advance by going to caring info.org and downloading the forms needed for your state(s) of residence
  • Bring along a list of your questions
  • Return for a follow-up conversation in 2-4 weeks. Then plan to revisit your decisions every 5 years or whenever your health status changes.

Remember to subscribe to End-of-Life University interview series on the website.

If you’d like to support EOLU with a small donation go to Patreon.com/eolu.

Tune in next week and until then:

Face Your Fears.           BE Ready.            Love Your Life.

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 51 The Truth About Advance Directives from a Doctor’s Perspective

In this episode Dr. Wyatt thanks her supporter Cathy Zheutlin who is a film producer currently making a documentary called “Living While Dying.” If you would like to support this podcast go to Patreon.com/eolu where you can make a donation of $1 or $2 per month to help defray the expenses of the podcast. Your name will be mentioned on the podcast as a thank you!

Dr. Wyatt discusses Advance Directives from a doctor’s point of view and relates stories about situations involving “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of this legal paperwork. The discussion includes:

  • AD’s are legal forms best applied to long-term situations and  can be helpful to prevent or terminate life-supporting care that is actually prolonging suffering and the dying process
  • we may wish that having AD’s in place will give us some measure of control over the circumstances of our death, but this is often not the case – there are many scenarios in which wishes cannot be carried out
  • AD’s are no substitute for having conversations with loved ones about our end-of-life wishes
  • be sure to communicate your wishes with everyone who might have a stake or concern about your dying process – make sure everyone hears the same message
  • update your loved ones whenever your wishes change
  • face your own fears of dying and of being kept alive in order to be extremely clear about your wishes – revisit these thoughts frequently
  • recognize that in the end circumstances may be out of everyone’s control and your wishes may not be followed. Find peace with that scenario and help alleviate any guilt your loved ones might carry if your wishes are not met.

Tune in next week for another episode of EOLU! Sign up for the End-of-Life University Interview series – 2 new interviews each month about all aspects of death and dying. Register here to be notified when the next interview is available.

Until next week:

Face Your Fears.          BE Ready.           Love Your Life.

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 48 July End of Month Update on the End-of-Life with Dr. Karen Wyatt

 

In this episode Dr. Wyatt thanks her newest Patreon supporter, Elaine den Hoed. If you’d like to make a small donation to help cover the expenses of this podcast and the EOLU interview series go to www.patreon.com/eolu. Your help is greatly appreciated!

This episode includes:

  • Nebraska’s plan to improve services for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients
  • “Memory Cafes” taking place in Minnesota
  • Study that looked at the utilization of Assisted Dying laws and found that none of the feared consequences have occurred: usage has been very low and there has been no “slippery slope” decline to euthanasia
  • University of Vermont study showed significant disparity between physicians’ estimations of prognosis and patients’ understanding of their own prognosis, pointing out the need for better  doctor-patient communication
  • Survey of Hem-Oncology MD’s showed that they feel patient’s unrealistic expectations of cure or prolonged life are the most common barrier to quality end-of-life care
  • Study that found Palliative Care conversations about patient prognosis created PTSD  for family members has been widely criticized for the way it was set up
  • Seniors are the fastest growing group of social media users
  • Article discussing mourning rituals among animals
  • Stephen Hawking declares “There is no afterlife.”
  • Photo of fatal motorcycle crash site in Kentucky shows what some believe is a “spirit” hovering over the site
  • Elderly couple in San Antonio who both have dementia died within 3 hours of one another while holding hands

Thanks for tuning in to the EOLU podcast! Be sure to come back every Monday and share these episodes with someone else who might find them helpful!

Remember:

Face Your Fears.          BE Ready.             Love Your Life.

Aging, End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 47 How to Shift Our Mindset About the End-of-Life

 

In this episode Dr. Wyatt addresses the Western tendency to deny and avoid the subjects of aging and death. But first she announced the upcoming release of her latest book “The Tao of Death” – an adaptation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching through the perspective of death (it’s awesome!) The book should be available for sale as an ebook by the end of this month so stay tuned. If you’d like to be notified when the book goes on sale sign up for the email list at www.eoluniversity.com and you’ll get an email notification (and a significant discount!)

Next she thanks her newest Patreon sponsor, Holly Randall, for her support of EOLU. If you would like to be mentioned on the podcast go to www.Patreon.com/eolu and make a $1 or $2 per month donation to say “Thank you” for EOLU and help defray the expense of creating the interview series and this podcast.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Irina Jordan and Artisurn.com. Irina has a free gift for everyone of a special coloring ebook called “Coloring Through Grief.” You can download and print the coloring pages (they’re beautiful, by the way!) at http://tinyurl.com/artisurn or go to: http://www.artisurn.com/pages/coloring-through-grief-free-coloring-ebook. These coloring pages are FREE and when you download them you’ll also receive a special promo code for a 10% discount on a handmade cremation urn from Artisurn. Get the coloring pages now – it’s really fun and relaxing to color!

In today’s chat Dr. Wyatt talks about some steps we can all take to help shift our own and our society’s mindset about aging and death. She will talk about:

  • Seeing through the false messages of youthfulness and anti-aging that are prevalent in advertising and marketing
  • How to see the beauty in aging
  • How to embrace your own mortality with grace and dignity
  • Three pillars of a new mindset about death:
    • Every living thing ultimately dies
    • Life is precious because it is fleeting
    • Each of us must find our own meaning in life and death

If you enjoy this episode you probably know someone else who would like it too so please share! Also remember to go to Patreon.com to check out the EOLU donation page, stay tuned for “The Tao of Death” and listen in every Monday for a new episode!

Until the next time, remember:

Face Your Fears.         BE Ready.        Love Your Life.

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 46 Art and the End-of-Life with Irina Jordan

Join Dr. Karen Wyatt and her guest Irina Jordan, Founder and Owner of ARTISURN, an online marketplace for handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes made by talented artisans. We will discuss the role of the creative arts in remembering our loved ones or beloved pets at the end-of-life and in healing grief. According to Irina Jordan, ARTISURN craftsmen are sensitive to the deep emotional component required in creating sacred objects and we will learn how they do this work. In this interview you will discover:

  • how cremation urns are created and measured
  • why a handmade cremation urn is preferred
  • how cremation jewelry is made, using ashes fused with glass
  • stories of grief healing through sacred art

Learn more about Irina’s work at www.artisurn.com

You can download and print Irina’s gift: Coloring Through Grief – a beautiful adult coloring book – at this link:  http://tinyurl.com/artisurn  You’ll receive a promo code for a 10% discount you can use on any Artisurn handmade cremation urn.

Thanks for tuning in! Remember to support this podcast and the EOLU interview series at www.patreon.com/eolu !! Thanks to Irina Jordan and Artisurn for their support of EOLU!!