Conversations of a Lifetime

Things You Shouldn't Wait To Say - A grassroots campaign to engage the community in starting advanced care planning conversations.

Start The Conversation - Click here for answers to basic questions, some great tips and and easy starter kit.

Resources for Taking Action - You'll find more valuable information here, as well as important forms to print out.

Questions? Contact Us

Info for Providers
Coding for Advance Care Planning
 
Trajectory of Illness
 
Articles
 
Websites
 
Books
 

Being Moral by Atul GawandeBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End  Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books, 2014. In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.  Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.  Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

 

Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope  Back, Anthony, Robert M. Arnold, and James A. Tulsky. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Physicians who care for patients with life-threatening illnesses face daunting communication challenges. Patients and family members can react to difficult news with sadness, distress, anger, or denial. This book defines the specific communication tasks involved in talking with patients with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Topics include delivering bad news, transition to palliative care, discussing goals of advance-care planning and do-not-resuscitate orders, existential and spiritual issues, family conferences, medical futility, and other conflicts at the end of life.

 

Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death  Butler, Katy. New York: Scribner, 2013. In this visionary memoir, Katy Butler ponders her parents’ desires for “Good Deaths” and the forces within medicine that stood in the way. Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came: a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence. Tragedy at first drew the family closer.  Then doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, keeping his heart going but doing nothing to prevent his six-year slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. When he told his exhausted wife, “I’m living too long,” mother and daughter were forced to confront a series of wrenching moral questions. When does death stop being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When do you say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go?”

 

The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care through the End of Life  Byock, Ira. New York: Avery, 2012. Ira Byock, a doctor on the front lines of hospital care, illuminates one of the most important and controversial social issues of our time.  It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Though the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home—which hospice care provides—many of us spend our last days fearful and in pain in a healthcare system ruled by high-tech procedures and a philosophy to “fight disease and illness at all cost.”

 

Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life  Byock, Ira. New York: Riverhead, 1997. Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. Dying Well brings us to the homes and bedsides of families with whom Dr. Byock has worked, telling stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, medical drama, and conflict. Through the true stories of patients, he shows us that a lot of important emotional work can be accomplished in the final months, weeks, and even days of life. It is a companion for families, showing them how to deal with doctors, how to talk to loved ones—and how to make the end of life as meaningful and enriching as the beginning.

   
Education and Resources
 
Advance Directive by State
 

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