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Talking about chronic illness and death is difficult, but necessary

 

Many people are uncomfortable talking about what they want and expect at the end of their lives, and it can be a difficult topic to broach with loved ones. JGS Lifecare, a leading health care system serving seniors and their families, will host an evening discussion on Thursday, May 11, 5:30-7 p.m., about the importance of having these conversations and how best to approach them.

 

Diane Dietzen, M.D., medical director of palliative care at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, said, “As hard as these conversations may be to have for all parties involved, there are a range of end-of-life issues that are important to talk about in advance. While putting them off may seem easier in the short-term, they often cause increased stress in an urgent, emotional situation when decisions must be made quickly.”

 

During the presentation, Dietzen will show excerpts from the Frontline episode, “Being Mortal,” which follows writer and surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande as he explores the relationships doctors have with patients who are nearing the end of life. She will then lead a discussion about the importance of advance care planning and sharing one’s wishes with loved ones.

 

“It can be very difficult to make life-and-death decisions under pressure,” said Dietzen. “That’s why it’s important to let your family know your wishes with regard to a variety of issues ranging from designating a health care proxy, to how you feel about life-prolonging procedures and where you prefer to spend your final days.”

 

The presentation will be held in the Gloth Family Auditorium at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home on the JGS Lifecare campus, 770 Converse Street, Longmeadow.

 

A free drawing at the end of the event will provide three attendees with a copy of Dr. Gawande’s best-selling book, Being Mortal. Time for questions and answers will follow the presentation. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.