The Proxy Predicament: Making Medical Decisions for Others is Hard

Most of us will lose our ability to make medical decisions for ourselves as we get closer to the last phase of life. At this point, our proxy decision makers will have to make decisions for is. It is impossible for us to truly know what another person may want for themselves in terms of […]

High School students trained to become cultural ambassadors for aging and end of life issues

To improve end-of-life care in the United States, especially among minorities, much work will need to be done to build trusting relationships, ones in which patients feel comfortable in engaging in end-of-life conversations. Based on recommendations from multi-ethnic patients and families, Stanford launched the Letter Project, a grass-roots campaign to empower multi-ethnic patients to initiate […]

Doctors struggle with conducting end-of-life conversations with their patients

A large study published in PLOS ONE identified common barriers doctors face in conducting end-of-life (EOL) conversations with their patients. 1040 doctors from various medical specialties participated in the study and only 0.01 % doctors reported no barriers to conducting EOL conversations with patients. 99.99% doctors reported barriers with 85.7% finding it very challenging to conduct EOL […]

In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day: A reminder for patients to address end-of-life issues

When San Jose, Calif. residents Shirley and Eddie Jones wanted to discuss their end-of-life wishes, they encountered resistance from an unexpected source. As detailed in the video above, their beloved children refused to participate in the conversation. As with the Jones, the people who love you the most may not be willing to help you […]

Decision-Making about Dialysis

More than 20 million Americans, one in 10 adults, have some form of chronic kidney disease. For those suffering from chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease, dialysis is a commonly recommended treatment. But a story published today in the New York Times reports that for older patients the treatment is increasingly being seen as an […]

Veteran’s Day 2014: Jerry Romano’s end-of-life care testimonial

As the population is aging, there is a great need for quality patient-centered, family oriented care for all older adults and their families. Over the past decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been well recognized for the very high quality of care provided to seriously ill veterans and their families. In fact,  the […]

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A Conversation with Katy Butler

“My mother got more information when she bought a car than when she was making the decision about my father’s pacemaker” says Katy Butler, award-winning journalist and author of the new book “Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Katy’s father, Jeffrey Butler, had suffered a stroke and also developed a painful hernia. His insurance refused to pay […]

Serving those who served: Growing need for quality geriatric palliative care for Veterans

  The Veteran population is rapidly aging  with 9.2 million veterans who are 65 years of age and older (See Table 1 below). 1.4 million Veterans are “old-old” i.e. 85 years or older. Like the late Mr. Martin Wise (US Coast Guard Veteran) shown in the video, most of the illness burdens borne by Veterans […]

How patients make decisions about cancer care: The story of Ronnie Belcher

Part 1 of 4: “It was the most gut wrenching decision I ever had to make”  At the age of 72, Mr. Ronnie Belcher, a wonderful and independent gentleman, a proud father and a doting grandfather had to deal with a terrible diagnosis. Nine of his ten siblings had been diagnosed with cancer and over the […]

A Conversation with Ellen Goodman about the Conversation Project

There’s a big gap between what Americans say they should discuss and what actually happens when it comes to one’s wishes about care at the end of life. A new national survey released by The Conversation Project reveals that while more than 9 in 10 Americans think it’s important to talk about their own and […]