Reliance Hospice: End of Life Options

March 21, 2024  2 PM   This event is for hospice personnel and is not open to the public.

The presentation will highlight the California’s 2016 End of Life Option Act (EOLA)), also known as Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)—as well as subsequent changes to the law. The background, overview, and specifics of this law such as who is eligible, the process for obtaining the prescription from the patient’s physician, and ingestion guidelines will be outlined. Latest trends, ongoing barriers and issues, and opportunities for collaboration will also be discussed.

Presenter: Lynne Calkins, CRNP, member of the Advisory Council for End of Life Choices California (EOLCCA), will introduce our organization and the free services of personal support and education provided through a dedicated team of volunteers.

Questions: Contact, Speaker@endoflifechoicesca.org


End of Life Choices California

End of Life Choices California’s mission is to provide Californians the information and support to successfully navigate their legal end-of-life options.  Relevant topics include Advance Care Planning; the California End of Life Option Act (EOLA); eligibility requirements for Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD); and Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)–a legal option in all 50 states. Our volunteers are very knowledgeable about both hospice and palliative care and can explain the differences between the two services.

Be sure to check our Resources page for Q/A; information on books, films, and organizations; sign up for our blog; see upcoming events; and so much more.  To request a speaker for your group or organization, click here.

Topkare Hospice: End of Life Options

March 6, 2024, 8:30 AM  This event is for hospice personnel and is not open to the public.

The presentation will highlight the California’s 2016 End of Life Option Act (EOLA)), also known as Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)—as well as subsequent changes to the law. The background, overview, and specifics of this law such as who is eligible, the process for obtaining the prescription from the patient’s physician, and ingestion guidelines will be outlined. Latest trends, ongoing barriers and issues, and opportunities for collaboration will also be discussed.

Presenter: Lynne Calkins, CRNP, member of the Advisory Council for End of Life Choices California (EOLCCA), will introduce our organization and the free services of personal support and education provided through a dedicated team of volunteers.

Questions: Contact, Speaker@endoflifechoicesca.org


End of Life Choices California logo

End of Life Choices California’s mission is to provide Californians the information and support to successfully navigate their legal end-of-life options.  Relevant topics include Advance Care Planning; the California End of Life Option Act (EOLA); eligibility requirements for Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD); and Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)–a legal option in all 50 states. Our volunteers are very knowledgeable about both hospice and palliative care and can explain the differences between the two services.

Be sure to check our Resources page for Q/A; information on books, films, and organizations; sign up for our blog; see upcoming events; and so much more.  To request a speaker for your group or organization, click here.

Advantage Health Hospice: End of Life Options

February 24, 2024 10 AM  This event is for hospice personnel and is not open to the public.

The presentation will highlight the California’s 2016 End of Life Option Act (EOLA), also known as Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)—as well as subsequent changes to the law. The background, overview, and specifics of this law such as who is eligible, the process for obtaining the prescription from the patient’s physician, and ingestion guidelines will be outlined. Latest trends, ongoing barriers and issues, and opportunities for collaboration will also be discussed.

Presenter: Lynne Calkins, CRNP, member of the Advisory Council for End of Life Choices California (EOLCCA), will introduce our organization and the free services of personal support and education provided through a dedicated team of volunteers.

Questions: Contact, Speaker@endoflifechoicesca.org


End of Life Choices California

End of Life Choices California’s mission is to provide Californians the information and support to successfully navigate their legal end-of-life options.  Relevant topics include Advance Care Planning; the California End of Life Option Act (EOLA); eligibility requirements for Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD); and Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)–a legal option in all 50 states. Our volunteers are very knowledgeable about both hospice and palliative care and can explain the differences between the two services.

Be sure to check our Resources page for Q/A; information on books, films, and organizations; sign up for our blog; see upcoming events; and so much more.  To request a speaker for your group or organization, click here.

The VSED Handbook

“VSED is a marathon, not a sprint, and like a marathon, takes lots of preparation.”

 -Kate Christie

Kate Christie’s The VSED Handbook, a Practical Guide to Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking is a timely addition to an ever-growing body of literature and increasing discussions about end-of-life choice.  End of Life Choices California receives numerous queries about VSED and it is one of the most viewed pages on our website.

The VSED Handbook, published following the VSED death of the author’s mother, is a guide to how to control the timing of one’s death by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking all foods and fluids. VSED, as the author explains, is an age-old method of dying, legal anywhere in the U.S. It is used mostly by elderly, frail individuals suffering from a poor quality of life, who don’t have a 6 month terminal diagnosis and are not eligible for hospice care or medical aid in dying (MAiD), if legal in their state. It’s the ultimate act of self-determination.

Immediately, I found many parallels and useful tips that can be offered to our clients, most of whom are exploring all end-of-life options. Here are just a few:

 

  • Counseling clients and their family members regarding the individual’s right to choose. Helping the team come to terms with the fact that their loved one understands they are giving up some possible good days in order to avoid bad days, weeks, or months, due to the unrelenting progressive nature of their disease.
  • The author emphasizes there are numerous ways to plan ahead and prepare well, including arranging for 24 hour in-person support for the duration.
  • Creating the atmosphere, preparing the physical space where the person will ultimately die. Having a choice, with near-certain dates, gives family and friends the opportunity to connect deeply with their loved one, and offer heartfelt goodbyes.
VSED Handbook, Kate Christie

Again, Kate emphasizes for us, dear readers, that individuals choosing to use VSED are making the choice to leave this world a little early, on their own terms, due to the reality that their illness will cause them to experience progressive losses of their selves, their personhood, their autonomy, and their dignity, and they are choosing to avoid these losses.

I highly recommend The VSED Handbook to anyone interested in learning more about this end-of-life option. This book is a love story, a guide, a reality check, and ultimately, an entire tool box both for the individual who is considering using VSED and his or her  loved ones.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in learning more about VSED, please call 760-636-8009 or contact us here. One of our highly trained volunteers will be able to discuss this option with you and answer all your questions. To learn more about this excellent resource on our website, click here.

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Lynne Calkins is a founding director and current board member of End of Life Choices California.  She is also honored to serve as an active client volunteer. She developed EOLCCA’s client services volunteer program, launched EOLCCA’s MAiD Bereavement Group, and is a frequent speaker to a wide variety of audiences on end-of-life options. She campaigned vigorously for the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act in 2015 and is eternally grateful for the legacy of Brittany Maynard that helped make this law a reality for all Californians. She is passionate about the individual’s right to choose a peaceful death at the end of life.

EOLCCA supports a strong team of experienced volunteers throughout the state, ready to help anyone, anywhere in California with information and support regarding all end-of-life planning and choices, including aid in dying through the California End of Life Option Act. You can find comprehensive information on our user-friendly website. EOLCCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we rely on donations from individuals and foundations to enable us to offer these services at no charge to our clients. To support our work, find volunteer opportunities, or request an educational presentation for your group, please visit ways to help.  Thank you!

MAiD MYTHS

In California, we are very fortunate to have won the right to medical aid in dying (MAiD). With the California End of Life Option Act (ELOA) in effect since June 2016, MAiD has been legal and available for more than seven years. The law provides the ability of a physician to write a prescription for life-ending medication for a terminally ill patient, and for that patient to self-ingest the medication. Since California’s law was passed by a legislative vote, and not by a public referendum on the ballot, surprisingly few people in a state as large as ours know about this option.

Additionally, because we live in a time of widespread misinformation and disinformation, EOLCCA receives a lot of inquiries from people who believe many of the myths circulating about medical aid in dying.


The purpose of this article is to dispel those myths and provide you with the facts, according to the ELOA.

Fact versus myth road sign with two arrows on blue sky background. White two street sign with arrows on metal pole. Two way road sign with text.

Myth #1: It is complicated to access MAiD.

FACT: It is not complicated once you have the required two physicians to work with (an attending physician and a consulting physician). Often the attending physician has a consulting physician already at hand. The law requires oral and written requests of two physicians who agree that you are eligible (meaning life expectancy of six months or less), just like the eligibility requirements for hospice. One of the services we provide to people who reach out to us is helping them talk with their own physician about prescribing and, if the physician will not participate as allowed by the law, we help them find a new physician who will prescribe.

Myth #2: MAiD requires too much paperwork.

FACT: The requesting patient only needs to complete a one page form. The REQUEST FOR AN AID-IN-DYING DRUG TO END MY LIFE IN A HUMANE AND DIGNIFIED MANNER form can be found on our website.

Myth #3: You must open and mix 100 capsules of medication.

FACT: This used to be the case, but now the medication arrives at the home in the form of a powder in a small bottle, dispensed from a compounding pharmacy. It consists of a combination of medications to which two ounces of water or apple juice are added, just prior to taking. Once mixed, it becomes a milk-like liquid. After consuming all the medication within two minutes, the patient generally falls asleep within five minutes and goes into a deeper and deeper sleep, and dies peacefully, the way most individuals say they wish to die. If the patient cannot swallow, there are other ways to self-ingest the medication according to the law. A knowledgeable physician can discuss these options.

Myth #4: A medical professional (MD, RN)  must be present when the MAiD medication is taken.

FACT: A person may take their medication with anyone present whom they wish. Anyone, including you, may mix the medication. But we feel that no one should die alone. We provide experienced, highly trained volunteers who are available to be with clients and their families to offer support, if requested.

Myth #5: You must have resided in California for at least six months in order to access MAiD.

FACT: The ELOA says nothing about the length of the residency requirement. Any place of residence in California, whether on your own or with family/friends, is sufficient to seek medical care in the state.

Myth #6: MAiD is euthanasia.

FACT: Euthanasia involves the administration of lethal medication to an individual by a medical professional. MAiD laws in the US require the individual to self-ingest, by swallowing or pushing a plunger by themselves into their digestive system.

Myth #7: MAiD is suicide.

FACT: MAiD allows an individual who would otherwise wish to continue living but cannot due to a terminal diagnosis without any chance of recovery, to plan for the day, time, and place when they may die peacefully. Suicide is committed by someone who is usually not dying and often suffering from mental illness. The ELOA states MAiD is not suicide in four separate places in the law.

Myth #8: Life insurance will not pay out for someone who uses MAiD.

FACT: By law, life insurance, wills, and contracts are unaffected by someone who chooses MAiD. The death certificate states the cause of death as the underlying disease (cancer, heart failure, COPD, etc.), never MAiD or suicide.

Myth #9: If I go through the process and receive my MAiD prescription, I must take it.

FACT: You can always change your mind, even on the planned day. You are in control. One-third of Americans in states with medical aid in dying who obtain the MAiD prescription never take it because they can relax significantly, knowing they have the medication if they ever need it.

Please feel free to call or email us anytime with questions or concerns at 760-636-8009 or info@endoflifechoicesca.org. Our volunteers are available to help you and we do not charge for our services.

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Lynne Calkins is a founding director and current board member of End of Life Choices California in addition to serving as an active client volunteer. She developed EOLCCA’s client services volunteer program, launched EOLCCA’s MAiD Bereavement Group, and is a frequent speaker to a wide variety of audiences on end-of-life options. She campaigned vigorously for the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act in 2015 and is eternally grateful for the legacy of Brittany Maynard that helped make this law a reality for all Californians. She is passionate about the individual’s right to choose a peaceful death at the end of life.

EOLCCA supports a strong team of experienced volunteers throughout the state, ready to help anyone, anywhere in California at no charge with information and support regarding all end-of-life planning and choices, including aid in dying through the California End of Life Option Act. You can find comprehensive information on our user-friendly website. EOLCCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and we rely on donations from individuals and foundations. To support our work, or request an educational presentation, please visit ways to help.  Thank you!