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Wise Aging: End-of-Life Choice in California, Family Stories session 2

Temple Sinai Oakland

Wise Aging: End-of-Life Choice in California, Family Stories—Zoom

Sunday, July 10, 2022  11 Tammuz 5782

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Zoom

This is the second session addressing end-of-life choices.In the first session, we covered the details about end-of-life choice, along with the Reform Jewish perspective.In this session, we plan to have a discussion including family members and friends who have been involved in implementing the decision.

Join this gathering live via Zoom Or dial in by phone to: (669) 900-9128
Meeting ID: 814 0702 0804

For more information, please contact Stewart Florsheim.

San Diego Academy of Family Physicians 2022 Symposium

SDAFP is holding its 65th Annual Family Medicine Update 2022 and is scheduled to be Live and In Person June 24th-26th, 2022! It will take place at the Paradise Point in Mission Bay, San Diego. Please note: Proof of Covid vaccination will be required for all attendees.

End of Life Choices California is hosting an Exhibit Booth.  Please drop by and introduce yourself!  For more information about our booth, please contact Lynne Calkins lcalkins@endoflifechoicesca.org
Thank you!

In Love, A Memoir of Love and Loss

I often receive requests to read and review books. As a result, I have quite a pile of books on my nightstand. And as an avid reader, this is a lovely problem to have. Amy Bloom’s book, In Love, came to me through a different channel. One of our esteemed board members, Fran Johns, recently wrote a commentary of the book that was published in March 2022. I read it, it piqued my interest, and I got the book.

Interestingly, I had just finished reading Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, and then watched the movie again. It had been a few years since I’d seen it and wanted to watch it after reading the book. An excellent story. So my brain was primed for Alzheimer’s disease (not literally!) when In Love landed on my nightstand.

 

Few Available Choices

I have been interested in, concerned about, and curious about Alzheimer’s disease for decades.  When I was in private family practice many years ago, I walked that path with quite a few patients and no matter what anyone tried, we really could only provide comfort care. Still Alice and In Love both depict the almost unbelievable devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. Not only to the patient, but to the family as well.

I thought Amy Bloom did a heart-wrenching job of sharing the experience of watching her beloved start to show early signs of the disease, becoming aware of the probability of the disease even before diagnosis, and finally accepting a clear understanding of what was happening and had been happening for years. She and her husband, Brian, were very brave as they confronted the issues and choices available to them based on their preferences and values.

Threading the Needle

I loved how personal the book is. I ached for them as they made plans, and then more plans, for Brian to find his peaceful death. I felt sad that they were unable to find that peaceful death in their own home and had to go to Switzerland to find medical aid in dying for early Alzheimer’s disease. As someone who has worked in the field of end-of-life care for over ten years now, it was still shocking to me to read her words about how poorly the US has constructed any kind of system for compassionate end-of-life choice. Yes, some states have medical aid in dying laws that allow physicians to legally prescribe medication to end a life. And people in those states are grateful for the choice.

But, as Amy Bloom said, accessing those laws is like ‘threading the needle”. Only a very specific cohort of patients are able to meet the requirements to access the law. A person must a) be mentally capable and understand the ramifications of the choice, b) be an adult and have a terminal diagnosis (life expectancy of less than six months) made by two physicians, and c) be able to self-administer the drugs.

 

In Love, A Memoir of Love and Loss, book cover
Walking Through This Process

Of course, many people, particularly those with terminal cancer, are able to access the law under these parameters with relative ease. They still, however, need to find a doctor who will prescribe the medication. Many people don’t, or can’t, find a physician to prescribe because they live in a rural area, or their own doctor either doesn’t know how to prescribe or doesn’t want to. The law allows for that. I am grateful to be part of EOLCCA as we continue to help people, at no charge, to walk through this process and overcome barriers they might run into. You can read about our services here.

For those who are not eligible for medical aid-in-dying and don’t wish to go to Switzerland, there are other end-of-life choices. We outline them here on our website and discuss these with clients all the time. One of those choices that people find most interesting is Voluntary Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED), though it  is not everyone’s cup of tea, as Amy Bloom discussed. This is totally understandable. However, we have supported many people through VSED and with adequate support and understanding, it is often a very approachable way of embracing nature’s authentic way of dying. It is seen in many cultures and in the animal kingdom as well. For some comprehensive resources on VSED, click here.

I applaud Amy Bloom’s courage in supporting her husband’s wishes to leave this world in his own way, in his own time. What a beautiful gift she gave him with that support. And what a beautiful gift to us all with this lovely book. Thank you.

End of Life Choices California is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides its services of support and information at no charge to our clients. If you would like to support our work, you can do so easily by clicking here. We are grateful for all gifts, large and small.

Please keep an eye out for next month’s blog post by one of our volunteers about dementia and the Dementia Directive.

South Bay Senior Providers May Meeting

Guest Speakers:

Kathie Jackson (Hospice by the Sea)
&
Lynne Calkins (End of Life Choices California)

Topic:  What is Assisted Dying?

Kathie and Lynne will share with us what “assisted dying” means in the state of California, along with recent policy updates. They will also be sharing details of how “Assisted Dying” works in various settings, as well as the requirements set forth in the California End of Life Option Act.

For additional information please contact:
SBSP Co-Chairs
Jean Vaccaro 619-253-4095  or  Jeremy Willis 858-775-3466

Speaking of Death…

A Café Venue where we talk about matters of living and dying.

Organized by: Tess Lorraine
Awakening to Life and Death

The more informed we are in the networks of support that our community offers, the less we turn our attention away from a crucial stage of our lives, our completion. I have been leading Speaking of Death Cafe’s for over 9 years and facilitating seminar series to prepare for our final stage. With zoom we can now provide speakers that will give relevant information to prepare for end of life effectively. Each month we will feature a speaker on the topic of end of life preparations. I invite you to join us. Your dying legacy depends on your beginning now before you find yourself in the midst of choices you never prepared for.

Lynne H. Calkins will speak to us about End of Life Choices California. The California End of Life Options Act provides a legal medical protocol for our choices in our dying process when we have a six month terminal diagnosis. The law requires several steps in order to qualify. This organization gives people the information and volunteer support needed to utilize California End of Life Options. Information will also be provided on VSEAD Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking.

Guest Speaker:
Lynne H. Calkins, Founding Director
End of Life Choices California

Learn about who we are and what we do
Understand all end of life options and medical aid in dying
Identify eligibility requirements for the California End of Life Option Act
Gain understanding of waiting period between oral request
Be aware of how to reach us when you need information
Press here for Zoom Link.