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We need to change the way we think about death

This episode of The Doctor's Art is an excellent overview of Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider's impressive work advocating for improved end-of-life (EOL) care in the United States.


Dr. Ungerleider has created the End Well Foundation to promote this vital work. One point she emphasizes in this podcast is the importance of changing views on death and dying. Changing our perspectives on death and dying is a serious challenge, and the road to this change is uncharted.


So how do we help society and individuals look at the end of life differently? I believe that the journey begins by educating individuals about what to expect from healthcare at the end. Our current EOL expectations are unrealistic and uniformed. Too often, families make desperate care choices because patients and families fear death but do not understand that ICU cannot save a frail elderly dying patient.

 

Advance education is the key to helping patients and families not panic and pursue unrealistic care options in the end. Such education requires time and thoughtful communication. Time for individuals to digest the reality of the end. Unfortunately, there are numerous forces - economics being the most significant that discourage these conversations.

 

My book The Journey’s End offers patients and families a compassionate education on EOL care.

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