It’s Always Too Soon Until It’s Too Late: Advanced Care Planning With Alzheimer’s

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Health Affairs dedicates its April 2014 issue to “The Long Reach of Alzheimer’s Disease.” The articles cover all aspects of Alzheimer’s, from research challenges, to legislative agendas, to end-of-life care and advance directives. Supporting this special issue is an extraordinary post to the Health Affairs Blog by Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and co-founder of The Conversation Project, whose goal is to ensure that people’s wishes for end-of-life care are expressed and respected. Goodman tells the personal, moving story of her sister’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis – arguing passionately about the importance of having these crucial conversations while they’re still possible. She echoes one of The Conversation Project’s core mottos: “It’s always too soon until it’s too late.”

The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death

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NPR- Take the time to listen to the recent piece on NPR about La Crosse, Wisconsin–the town where everyone talks about death.  Nearly 96% of people who who have died there had advance directives.  Nationally, only 30% of people who die have advance directives. Bud Hammes, a medical ethicist at Gundersen Lutheran Health System, has taken the charge of changing the culture of this town.

Listen to the NPR piece here.

Save the Date: Lasting Words Book Launch at Brookline Booksmith-3/25

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TCP coach and faith-based leader Claire Willis has just released her book, Lasting Words.  We encourage everyone to pick this book up and attend the book launch at the Brookline Booksmith on March 25th if you live in the Boston area.  Read more about the book below-

Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life appeals to healthcare professionals, clergy, hospice workers and caregivers, partners, and families of loved ones who are dying. It is equally  important to those in the latter parts of their lives who seek personal reflection and guidance.

Written words never matter more than they do at the end of life. Expressions of joy and sorrow, the desire to connect with loved ones; ways of finding comfort for yourself and strength for others—all are vital when time is short. But perhaps most pressing is the search for meaning. Based on research and the author’s experience working with profoundly ill people, Lasting Words focuses on special end-of-life concerns. Claire Willis guides writers through their personal journeys to Gratitude, Hope, Forgiveness, Wisdom, Prayer and, ultimately, saying good-bye. Filled with true stories, evocative photographs, tender poems and quotations, Lasting Words creates a living legacy for every person who uses it.

Read more about the book and the author here.

Jewish Sacred Aging: Harriet Warshaw and The Conversation Project

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Harriet Warshaw, executive director of The Conversation Project, joins Rabbi Address for the first half of the February 11 edition of “Boomer Generation Radio,” our weekly radio program on WWDB-AM 860 in Philadelphia. In the second half of the show, Nora Adelman of the Kendal Corporation, and Harry Hammond, a resident in one of Kendal’s communities, join Rabbi Address to discuss advanced planning that families can do to help their loved ones.

View the interview here-

The Couple Next Door

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PULSE- Kelly McCutcheon Adams, a director at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, was featured in Pulse Magazine last week.  She told the story of the death of her next door neighbor. Read an excerpt from the story below-

Tom and Sally have been great neighbors–private people, and the salt of the earth. In winter, they’d snowblow our driveway, despite being our seniors by thirty years. Once, years back, when our dog was gnawing a frozen squirrel and I was freaking out, Tom calmly took the squirrel away by making a game of it (the “squirrelcicle incident,” as it’s know in our household). On Halloween, our kids would trick-or-treat at their house first; at Christmas, they’d make Tom and Sally peppermint bark, and we would bring it over and admire their ceramic Christmas village, laid out on card tables.

These were the only times we would visit their home. Our other conversations were reserved for the driveway, where we’d meet when gathering the mail, raking the leaves or putting out the recycling bins. We were grateful to have such good neighbors who watched out for us.

A year ago, Tom was diagnosed with lung cancer. In our driveway conversations, Sally revealed that the cancer was spreading. And she made it clear that Tom wished to avoid ending up in the hospital.

Read the rest of the story here.

Planning for end a gift to family

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Las Vegas Review Journal (Paul Harasim)-   A ventilator kept my father alive. His heart couldn’t do its job.

He lay in the hospital bed with more tubes seemingly pushed into him each day.

A decorated World War II veteran, he deserved far better than the death he got. I knew him well enough to know that had he been able to talk, he would have told doctors to pull the plug.

There is no way he would have allowed himself to lie there day after day, helpless, shriveling before our eyes, unable to even breathe on his own.

But our family never talked about the kind of care we wanted or didn’t want at the end.

Read the full article here.