We do our best to prepare for natural disasters, but we rarely prepare for the natural disaster awaiting us all: Death. So writes Dr. Ira Byock in his compelling and informative story “Caring Well for One Another Through the End of Life,” which appears in USA Today’s “End of Life Care” supplement.
“Relatively few Americans are sufficiently informed or have taken basic steps to keep themselves and their families safe from harm when dying,” writes Dr. Byock, who is a practicing palliative care physician and author of The Best Care Possible. “Despite decades of efforts and significant improvements in end-of-life care, studies reveal that many Americans still suffer as they die or spend their last days in places or situations they would never have wanted.”
Dr. Ira Byock
He advises people to seek out specialized teams to support you when things get difficult, equating palliative care and hospice programs to the Red Cross and FEMA. “With skillful care and reasonable comfort, a person’s dying can hold opportunities to complete a life, rather than merely have it end.”
Dr. Byock also goes on to stress how important it is to have a conversation with people you trust, telling them what sort of treatment you either want or don’t want. This is where he mentions Everplans and The Conversation Project as websites that “provide valuable resources and forms at no cost.”
The “End of Life Care” supplement, which is currently on newsstands, provides other very interesting and informative stories about hospice care myths, how Hall of Fame quarterback Boomer Esiason became a life insurance advocate after losing his mother at an early age, and a look at the legacy of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ iconic work “On Death and Dying." Oh, and the new season of Homeland starts this weekend so don't forget to set those DVRs!