Friday Five: From Seriously Ill to Death and Dying

| By Casa de la Luz

1. There was a well-written, poignant blog entry this week on the American Journal of Nursing’s blog, Off the Charts. Editor Amy M. Collins writes about her first personal experience with death in “Talking About Death: Not Nice, But Necessary,” and while we recognize this is one person’s personal anecdote, we can’t help but worry how many more personal anecdotes there are similar to hers.
When it comes to serious illness, to deciding how far to go with treatment, families need to have the conversation with one another, and physicians and other healthcare professionals need to be available to support patients and families. Just like Amy asking the doctor about what to do next in the hallway, we know other patients are looking to their physicians for guidance. Let’s give them the guidance they need to make the right decisions for them.

2. We like to say that volunteers are the heart of hospice, and stories such as this, about threshold choirs, remind us how true that statement is. “Unique choir ministers to patients at the threshold between life and death” is a great story about the rise of female, non-denominational, a capella choirs that sing to hospice patients. We’ve always supported music therapy, and we believe in the power of music to offer comfort and healing to patients at the end of life.

3. We appreciate the growing attention by the public of Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases, but we know there are still lots of questions out there. Caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may find this Ask the Expert video segment from the Alzheimer’s Association helpful. The questions come from real-life family caregivers like yourself.

4. We think this Minnesota program is on the right track, and will hopefully serve as a model for healthcare providers across the country. “Making decisions for loved one’s family days” is about Minnesota’s Honoring Choices program, which is designed to offer patients and families trained facilitators who help them discuss the level of healthcare intervention they might want, in case of accident or serious illness.

5. Caregiving can be rewarding, as you give back to the parents who cared for you or lovingly stand by your spouse, through sickness and health. But caregiving is also emotionally taxing, as you cut back your work hours or eventually quit your job altogether, worrying about finances, and keeping track of medications and doctors and appointments. Family caregivers are at high risk for issues such as depression, and it’s important to recognize the early signs.  “When a family caregiver suffers from depression, there are two people at risk – the family caregiver and the family member or friend for whom she or he cares,” points out the National Family Caregivers Association website. Learn more about caregiver depression from NFCA.

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