Ep. 70 Looking Back on 2016: A Positive Year for End-of-Life Issues

In this final episode of 2016 Dr. Wyatt thanks all of the patrons who have generously made contributions on Patreon.com/eolu this year! Thank you for offering your support for this podcast and the End-of-Life University interview series!

In this look back at 2016 we talk about the following positive events in the end-of-life arena:

  • In January JAMA dedicated a special issue to “Death, Dying and the End-of-Life”, which represents a positive breakthrough in awareness of EOL issues by the medical profession
  • Medical schools began adopting new training programs for students in pain management, palliative care, and communication skills around advance care planning. There is a college-level program that pairs pre-med students with hospice patients
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are bringing in children and college students to interact with patients
  • Dementia rates in the US  have dropped in the past year
  • Pilot studies are underway involving providing education and training to family caregivers and providing a small stipend to caregivers
  • A demonstration project is underway to study the benefits of providing curative care simultaneously with hospice care
  • Studies showed that palliative care lowers healthcare costs along with providing increased quality of life, improved pain management and fewer hospital days
  • Harvard study of adult development showed that relationships are a key to longevity
  • California and Colorado both passed assisted dying laws in 2016
  • The nation’s first conference on VSED was held this year
  • Conversation Sabbath took place for the first time in November, bringing discussions about death and dying into places of worship
  • Dying to Know Day was held in the US, inspired by the movement in Australia
  • Miss Norma, a 90-year old woman who refused treatment for her cancer, spent most of the year traveling around the country in an RV with her son and daughter-in-law, fully enjoying the last days of her life

Thank you for tuning in to the EOLU Podcast during 2016! I hope this has been a positive and productive year for you. May 2017 be filled with growth, surprises, peace and joy! See you next year and until then …

Face Your Fears.              BE Ready.              Love Your Life.

Ep. 69 How To Brighten Your Holidays by Making a Difference for Someone Else

 

In this episode Dr. Wyatt shares some ideas for helping others during this holiday season. The best antidote to despair is to care for someone else!

If you’d like to support this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series you can visit our donation page at Patreon.com/eolu.

Here are some suggestions for reaching out to others in need during the holidays:

  • Visit a patient in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Bring music to a nursing facility with a choir or band
  • Visit an elderly neighbor in their home
  • Take a meal to a shut-in
  • Help elderly patients address holiday cards
  • Put up holiday decorations for a frail or ill person
  • Care for a pet for a hospice patient
  • Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor
  • Prepare a meal for a grieving family
  • Read holiday stories to patients at a nursing home
  • Help a hospice patient find gifts to give to loved ones
  • Provide childcare for a family dealing with grief or illness

No matter how you spend the upcoming holidays (Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza), or with whom you celebrate, may you have an abundance of light and joy and love in your life. Many blessings to you and those you love!

Ep. 68 Holiday Gift Guide for Those Coping With Death and Bereavement

 

This week Dr. Wyatt shares ideas for holiday gifts that are appropriate for caregivers, patients, and the bereaved. Those of us who work with dying patients and bereaved families believe it is important to deal with death openly and frankly, rather than trying to hide or deny the reality that we are all going to die some day. By choosing a gift that acknowledges death you can help foster a healthier approach to the end-of-life in our society and provide an opening for your friend to seek you out for support and conversation.

Here are some “death-aware” gifts that you might consider for various individuals grappling with death and loss this holiday season:

  1. Books: As a reader, books are always one of my favorite gifts to give and receive and there are many that can fit the criteria of “death-aware”. Here are just a few of those books:
    1. The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz consists of a series of letters from a dying father to his unborn children. This small book is profound and impactful but not too confronting about death and dying. Since it has a masculine perspective on life and death this would be a great gift for a man who may not resonate with some of the other books listed here.
    2. A Call from Spooner Street by Carol Ascher is a good read for an adult child dealing with the death of an elderly parent.
    3. Connecting the Dots and Support for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers by Judith London are wonderful books for caregivers of dementia patients.
    4. The Last Adventure of Life by Rev. Maria Hoaglund is full of helpful tips for families dealing with the dying of a loved one at home.
    5. Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley is another wonderful book for families with a loved one nearing death that deals with unique deathbed experiences and communications.
    6. Safe Passage by Molly Fumia is an inspirational little book of daily devotions for one who is grieving.
    7. Turning the Corner on Grief Street by Rev. Terri Daniel is appropriate for someone in the later stages of grief who is ready for a spiritually transformative look at grief.
    8. Home Funeral Ceremonies by Donna Belk and Kateyanne Unullisi is a beautiful book of rituals and ceremonies for a family comfortable with having their loved one die and receive after-death care at home.
    9. What Really Matters by Karen Wyatt MD is a book of stories about hospice patients, their families and the process of discovering what really matters in death as well as life.
    10. Find additional recommended books in Episode 56.
  1. Music Music is a matter of personal preference but here are some lovely choices for those near the end-of-life:
    1. Walking Each Other Home by The Threshold Choir consists of songs appropriate for the bedside of a dying patient.
    2. Rosa Mystica and The Geography of the Soul by Therese Schroeder-Sheker contain beautiful harp and vocal music for the dying produced by her Chalice of Repose Project.
    3. Graceful Passages by Gary Malkin is a combination CD and Gift book with music and the spoken word for anyone exploring the issues of life and death.
  1. Hello Game (formerly called “My Gift of Grace”) This game is a fun and inspirational tool for creating conversations about death and dying. It would be a great gift for a family facing future loss (which actually describes all of our families) who need some help talking about the end-of-life. The questions contained in the game provide a gentle introduction to a difficult subject.
  1. Memory Quilt or Pillow Favorite clothing items like T-shirts, ties, skirts or dresses can be used to make beautiful memorial quilts or pillows. This might be a thoughtful gift for someone close to you who is grieving a loved one if you have access to those clothing items.
  1. Ceremonial Supplies You might package together one of the suggested books or CD’s along with some of these supplies to help families create rituals for the dying process and for grief:
    1. Incense or sage
    2. Essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, lemon, sandalwood, tea tree. Read about aromatherapy for the dying here.
    3. Candles
    4. Handmade paper for writing notes
    5. Journal
  1. Gifts for Caregivers If you know someone caring for a loved one during this holiday season be sure to offer a little extra TLC or support. Stress levels can increase greatly for caregivers at this time of year with an influx of visitors and extra tasks to perform. Here are some thoughtful ideas:
    1. Gift certificate for a massage or “spa day”
    2. Homemade “coupon” book with redeemable certificates for help with errands, housecleaning, laundry, cooking, or respite care
    3. Gift cards for local restaurants that provide home delivery
    4. Punch card for a local yoga studio or gym along with offers of respite care so the caregiver can get away at least once a week
    5. Provide an outing for the patient including transportation and companionship to give the caregiver a break
    6. “Fidget Blanket” for a dementia patient to keep hands occupied
    7. DVD for the patient of a favorite movie or sporting event (especially old musicals, comedies and TV shows from the 1960’s)
    8. CD for the patient of music from the 1940’s and 50’s
    9. Invitation for a “lunch date” for the caregiver along with respite care for the patient
    10. Create a “Memory Book” for the patient of old photos, newspaper clippings and special documents from the past.

These suggestions are just a beginning to help you start thinking creatively about how to give a meaningful and fitting gift to a loved one facing death, dying or grief this holiday season. Spend some time searching for the perfect present that honors death and supports the one experiencing this difficult path.

But remember, there is no substitute for your presence, which is far more important than any other gift you can give. Be willing to spend time with your friend or loved one, even when you don’t know what to say and can do nothing more than sit in silence. Offering your calm and loving attention in the midst of a busy holiday season can be a gift for you, as well.

Wishing you many blessings this holiday season! Go to Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to support this podcast and End-of-Life University. Tune in each Monday for a new episode and remember:

Face Your Fears.                BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

 

 

Ep. 67: Compassion and Choices at the End of Life with Arline Hinckley

 

In honor of the Medical Aid in Dying  Law that passed in the state of Colorado in November, Dr. Karen Wyatt features a interview with special guest Arline Hinckley, Secretary of the Board and Client Support Volunteer for Compassion and Choices of Washington. They will discuss the Death With Dignity laws that are currently in effect in Washington and Oregon and under consideration in several other states across the country.

You will learn:

  • Why physician assisted “suicide” is not considered an accurate term
  • The end-of-life options offered to patients during a consultation with Compassion and Choices
  • The process patients must follow to utilize the Death With Dignity law
  • The statistics for Washington: how many people actually seek assistance with dying and how many follow through
  • How Death With Dignity laws can offer peace and reassurance to dying patients

Until next week remember that you can support this podcast by going to Patreon.com/eolu to contribute $1 or $2 per month AND …

Face Your Fears.                BE Ready.                 Love Your Life.