Advance Care Planning

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None of us likes to think about the end of life, despite the fact that we know it will come at some time. Making the hard decisions about your own or a loved one’s health care toward the end of life can be unsettling, even troubling. In some cases, family turmoil can result.

Advance care planning – another term for preparing for the end-of-life - can help to make that difficult process a little easier. It can ensure one’s wishes are fulfilled, provide for a peaceful passing, and avoid potential family disruption.

Despite their primary purpose of preserving and protecting life, physicians are increasingly recognizing the importance of advance care planning. And that’s the message of the August edition of Physician Focus with the Massachusetts Medical Society.

The program features two members of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Geriatric Medicine who discuss advance care planning, what it entails, why it’s important, it advantages, how to go about it, and the physician’s role in the process.

Eric Reines, M.D., committee chair and geriatrician at Element Care in Lynn, and Beth Warner, D.O., committee member and consultant geriatrician with Cooley Dickinson Health Care in Northampton, join host and primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. for the discussion.

The physicians share their professional and personal experiences with end-of-life care and offer suggestions for patients on how to get the process started with a simple act: conversation – talking with one’s health care provider and family members to make your wishes known about end-of-life issues and to ensure that those wishes are carried out.

The physicians discuss the benefits of health care proxies and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment, hospice and palliative care, and how physicians address the persistent hopes of patients, even in the face of terminal illness.

Please join us in August on Physician Focus. It could help you start an important conversation that may be long overdue.

Photo: From left, Bruce Karlin, M.D., Eric Reines, M.D., Beth Warner, D.O.