October 22, 2014 – Facing Death


Anchor lead:  While many would rather not face end-of-life issues, that’s not usually the best strategy, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Death and taxes are commonly identified as the only things we can’t avoid.  Why then, don’t we think more about what we would like our final days to look like?  In the wake of a report on end of life care by the Institute of Medicine, Thomas Smith, director of palliative care at Johns Hopkins, hopes more people will stop thinking magically.

Smith: For the rest of us who accept that life is finite, and medical science can’t fix everything, it really helps to do some planning.  It helps to be able to sit with your loved ones and say, I love you.  Statements of love, statements of forgiveness, are really important as people are dying. Just as important are intentional acts to create your legacy.  I’m reasonably optimistic that the winds have changed.  We’re not providing the care that people want.  We have the capacity to fix that.   :30

Smith says having conversations with all concerned and documenting one’s wishes removes burdens from loved ones and caregivers.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.