Learn how a minimalist lifestyle can help you find more joy and meaning as you approach the later days of life.
In this episode I share my thoughts on why the minimalist lifestyle could help us avoid excessive and unnecessary medical treatment at the end of life. In addition there are many other benefits to living simply and with “less is more” as our goal when we get older.
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The minimalist movement is all the rage right now among millennials and it has a lot of positive aspects we can learn from. The emphasis is on living simply, with less material possessions in order to have more joy and freedom in life. This lifestyle could serve us well as we approach our own end of life. Here are some ways to live more simply:
Clear out possessions that you no longer use or cherish. This idea has been described in a recent blog and book about the Swedish practice of “death-cleaning.”
Comes to terms with mortality. Recognize that life is finite and death is inevitable, therefore it is important to be intentional about how you live each moment in every day, including what kind of healthcare you choose.
Take control over your healthcare – be proactive and question recommendations in these areas:
Medications – Ask if the drugs you are taking are still necessary, if they could be causing side effects or creating negative interactions with one another. Ask if you can try reducing dosages or the number of medications you are being prescribed. Many seniors are taking at least 5 prescription medications according to studies.
Annual exam – studies show that the annual physical exam wastes money and time and might even be harmful. Ask if you can decrease to one physical every 3 yeats.
Health screenings – Over age 70 it is no longer recommended that you have the following screening tests: colonoscopy, mammogram, PSA, pap smear. Studies show that excessive screening can lead to false positive results, over-diagnosis and harmful over-treatment.
Plan aheadand be prepared in order to minimize complications in these areas:
Aging – How will you manage the physical changes of later life? Who will help you?
Housing – Where will you live if you can’t stay in your own home?
Terminal care – What type of treatment do you want to receive at the end of life and for how long?
After-death care – What type of funeral and burial do you want to have?
Learn to live in the moment – so you can enjoy all of life.
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!
It’s the end of August and time for another End of Month Update on the End-of-Life. Today Dr. Wyatt discusses the following stories from the news and social media:
Baycrest Health Sciences reported a study that ongoing mental stimulation for the elderly can counteract the contribution of the Western diet toward cognitive decline
Some hospitals are creating Acute Care for Elders units to ensure that the elderly receive focused care that will enable them to return to a functional level and be able to return home. There are ~200 such units in the US right now.
UCLA’s Geriatric unit has found significant overmedication of their elderly patients and has hired a pharmacist to help adjust medications for their patients – reported in Washington Post
CMS encouraging states to use Medicaid dollars to pay for in-home care for their elderly rather than nursing home stays
Pilot Study shows that offering intensive education for in-home caregivers helps decrease ER visits and hospitalizations
Illinois law regulates training standards for Alzheimer’s caregivers
Revised “Demoralization Scale” for evaluating patients decline in morale during cancer treatment
Patients who use emotional support and acceptance as coping strategies have increased quality of life, decreased anxiety and depression compared to patients who resort to denial and self-blame
Story of Disney Princess Party held for the daughter of a young mother who is dying of brain cancer
Story of California woman with ALS who held a 2-day “going away” party before using the assisted dying law to end her life
Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! Remember you can support this show and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on Patreon.com/eolu.
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/artisurnor 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!