Category Archives: End-of-life issues

“‘How Long Have I Got, Doc?’ Why Many Cancer Patients Don’t Have Answers” – California Healthline

cancer-decisions-4Bruce Mead-e, 63, who has advanced lung cancer, stands in the garden at his home in Georgetown, Del. Over four years, he has undergone two major surgeries, multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. (Eileen Blass for Kaiser Health News)

by Liz Szabo

“In the past four years, Bruce Mead-e has undergone two major surgeries, multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy to treat his lung cancer.

“Yet in all that time, doctors never told him or his husband whether the cancer was curable — or likely to take Mead-e’s life.

“‘We haven’t asked about cure or how much time I have,’ said Mead-e, 63, of Georgetown, Del., in a May interview. ‘We haven’t asked, and he hasn’t offered. I guess we have our heads in the sand.’

“At a time when expensive new cancer treatments are proliferating rapidly, patients such as Mead-e have more therapy choices than ever before. Yet patients like him are largely kept in the dark because their doctors either can’t or won’t communicate clearly. Many patients compound the problem by avoiding news they don’t want to hear.”

Read this article in its entirety at California Healthline.

“Views and Experiences with End-of-Life Medical Care in Japan, Italy, the United States, and Brazil: A Cross-Country Survey” – Kaiser Family Foundation

“In 2014, Americans ages 65 and older made up 15 percent of the total U.S. population; by 2060, that share is projected to grow to 24 percent. A majority of Americans (57 percent) believe the growing number of older people in the U.S. is a problem for the country, including a third (36 percent) who see it as a major problem. Older Americans themselves are more likely to see the aging of the population as a problem; six in ten (62 percent) of those ages 65 and over see it as a problem, including half (48 percent) who believe it is a major problem.”

end of life conversations

“In partnership with The Economist, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a cross-country survey of adults in the United States, Italy, Japan, and Brazil about people’s views and experiences related to aging and end-of-life medical care. These four countries are each at different stages of population aging, and have different cultural and institutional considerations when it comes to preparing and providing care for those near the end of life.

“This report gives an overview of the survey results for the U.S. A summary report comparing themes across the four countries and highlighting specific findings in Japan, Italy, and Brazil is available here.

“Using Our Pink Friend (POLST) Appropriately: Please Help!” – GeriPal

NOTE: This article is about the Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment Form – commonly referred to as the P.O.L.S.T. form. In Pennyslvania, the same form is modified a bit to the Pennsylvania Order for Life Sustaining Treatment.


POLST Paradigm Forms are different in each state — the order of the sections or the options within a section may be different — but they cover the same information.”

“The National POLST Paradigm Task Force (NPPTF) has just released their updated ‘Appropriate POLST Paradigm Form Use Policy,’ which can be accessed at So I’ll just start by disclosing that I am very fond of POLST (Physician Orders For Life Saving Treatment).”

Now on to the article at GeriPal: “Using Our Pink Friend (POLST) Appropriately: Please Help!”


“35 Years Of American Death | Mortality rates for leading causes of death in every U.S. county from 1980 to 2014.” – FiveThirtyEight

deaths mapMortality rates are age adjusted to account for higher mortality in older populations and geographic variations in the ages of county populations.

“Researchers have long argued that where we live can help predict how we die. But how much our location affects our health is harder to say, because death certificates, the primary source for mortality data, are not always complete. They frequently contain what public health experts call ‘garbage codes’: vague or generic causes of death that are listed when the specific cause is unknown. Garbage codes make it difficult to track the toll of a disease over time or to look for geographical patterns in how people die. The data shown in the map above represents one research group’s effort to fill in these gaps.

Continue reading this article at

“Quality & Safety Consideration for Patients with a POLST or Living Will | Do We Ask for Permission to Treat First? Or Treat first & Ask Questions Later?” – GeriPal

RSS cardThis resuscitation card links to a video by the patient explaining their care preferences: The password is: 911.

“As we are educated on the ethical & financial concerns surrounding end-of-life care, we are informed by Institute of Medicine that end-of-life care is broken and accounts for $170 billion in annual spending (1). This projection will exceed $350 billion in less than 5 years. To better align patient wishes, living wills & POLST (Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) are necessary documents and processes. Whether you like them or not they are here to stay are we need to assure provider competency.  Additionally, Medicare now reimburses for advance care planning conversations in the office or via telemedicine. In the past, physicians have tried to embrace living wills and more recently, the POLST paradigm has emerged to the national forefront. POLST & POLST-like processes have grown rapidly, which has outpaced the ability of states to educate to ensure the safe & effective utilization of this process.”

Read this GeriPal article in its entirety, click here.

“Code Blue” – GeriPal

Code Blue

by Marcia Glass, MD

“I sometimes notice ‘DNR’ on my intern’s to-do list during rounds. It usually means his resident asked why this patient, in spite of being so debilitated from his end-stage cancer, or his dementia, or his heart failure, was still full code.  The patient should be made DNR instead, but doing so involves a difficult conversation with sick patients or desperate relatives, sometimes over hours, sometimes over days. Hence, the DNR on the to-do list and the knowing looks from my team. ‘How’s the family?’ ‘Do they get it?’ ‘Are they reasonable?’ Any possibility of a peaceful death depends on my medical team’s ability to make people we hardly know trust us and then change their minds.

“Mrs. J. was different. In her eighties, she came to our hospital … ”

Continue reading this article at GeriPal, click here.

“A Playbook For Managing Problems In The Last Chapter Of Your Life” – California Healthline

Close up of senior woman's hands holding walking stickCommon reasons seniors move out of their homes include developing dementia, having a spouse fall ill or die, and not being able to keep up their homes. (iStock)

CHICAGO — “At least once a day, Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist gets an urgent phone call.

“‘Mom fell and is in the hospital,’ a concerned middle-aged son might report.

“‘Dad got lost with the car, and we need to stop him from driving,’ a distraught middle-aged daughter may explain.

“‘We don’t know what to do.’

“Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, wondered if people could become better prepared for such emergencies, and so she designed a research project to find out.

“The result is a unique website,, which helps older adults plan for predictable problems during what Lindquist calls the ‘last quarter of life’ — roughly, from age 75 on.”

Click here to continue reading this California Healthline article in its entirety.

visit website

Click here (or on the graphic above) to visit the PLANYOURLIFESPAN.ORG WEBSITE.

“Docs Bill Medicare For End-Of-Life Advice As ‘Death Panel’ Fears Reemerge” -Kaiser Health News

Nurses Helping Elderly

“End-of-life counseling sessions, once decried by some conservative Republicans as “death panels,” gained steam among Medicare patients in 2016, the first year doctors could charge the federal program for the service.

“Nearly 14,000 providers billed almost $35 million — including nearly $16 million paid by Medicare — for advance care planning conversations for about 223,000 patients from January through June, according to data released this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Full-year figures won’t be available until July, but use appears to be higher than anticipated.

“Controversy is threatening to reemerge in Congress over the funding, which pays doctors to counsel some 57 million Medicare patients on end-of-life treatment preferences.”

Click here to continue reading this Kaiser News Network article.

“Laughing Until You Die | Humor May Be An Antidote For The Pain Of Death For Patients And Survivors” – California Health Line

Senior women enjoying cup of coffee together, talking

by Bruce Horovitz

“Just weeks before Christmas some years ago, Shirley Rapp and her family faced the devastating news that she had what appeared to be a terminal illness.

“But that didn’t stop Rapp from wanting to do one last round of Christmas shopping for her kids. Her daughter, Karyn Buxman, a self-described neurohumorist and RN, went along. When the mother-daughter duo stepped into a St. Louis-area stationery store, Rapp picked up a day planner that she admired, turned to her daughter and quipped: “If I make it past Jan. 1, will you buy this one for me?”

“That’s when Mom and daughter burst into laughter that attracted every eye in the store.

“For some folks, the process of dying comes with less stress when it’s something of a laughing matter. Not a yuk-yuk laughing matter. But, at its simplest, a willingness to occasionally make light of the peculiarities — if not absurdities — that often go hand-in-hand with end-of-life situations.”

Click here to read this article at California Healthline in its entirety.

green burials – a trend?

Green, or natural burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as caskets, shrouds, and urns.” – SOURCE: Green Burial


There’s an article entitled “More funeral homes offer green burials” at The Reading Eagle’s Website today – though most Website visitors won’t be able to read it because “A Reading Eagle subscription is required for unlimited access to”

To learn more, Google searches about “green burials berks county” produced these first- page results:

A second google search for “green burials lancaster county” generated these top results:

Lastly, a google search for “green burials lebanon county” generated these top results: