Oct 11, 2022
A lot of people don’t want to talk about death and dying. Yet, talking about death doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and it’s usually better to talk about it before it happens – for everyone involved.
Death and dying are something that a lot of people don’t have a lot of experience dealing with. That’s because, over the past several decades, as a society, we have moved death out of the home and into institutions.
For some, the information I share in this podcast may be an intellectual conversation/ information) – for others, it may hit the heart. It’s one thing to listen to information about death and dying when you’re not right in the middle of it; compared to being in the middle of it and trying to learn more. Listening to and learning about death and dying can be harder when your heart is hurting.
Many of the most important things tend to range from education around what to expect, preparing by getting their finances straight, and getting advanced directives in order. There are many things to think about when preparing for the end of life— if you’re lucky enough to have time to do so.
In my experience, some people have the luxury of this time, and some don’t. Those whose loved one dies unexpectantly are upset because they didn’t have time to resolve unfinished business or get to a place of acceptance ~ compared to those families whose loved ones take months to weeks to ultimately die being upset that it’s taking so long for death to come, because it’s emotionally exhausting.
In this episode of This is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World, we will discuss end-of-life care— two different types of care; as well as the providers involved and the type of care provided.
Key points covered in this episode:
Palliative care begins early during the course of treatment for a life-threatening, serious illness, and it can be delivered at several points of care across the continuum of healthcare settings. This type of end-of-life care includes institutional long-term care settings (nursing homes and assisted living); home health, acute care facilities, and outpatient clinics. Palliative care has limited funding, and most palliative care programs need alternative funding.
Basic palliative care is delivered by health care professionals who are not palliative care specialists—they are not “certified” in palliative care by a credentialing organization.
Basic palliative care providers can be primary care providers and disease-oriented specialists, such as cardiologists or oncologists; nurses; social workers; chaplains; and other providers (such as physical, occupational, and/or speech therapists).
Specialty palliative care providers are all those same provider types (interdisciplinary team), except they are certified in palliative care by a credentialing organization.
I look back on my career, Hospice was certainly part of the standard of care when I graduated as a nurse practitioner in 2000; but Palliative care was just coming into practice at that time in my area. I was lucky enough to work with a geriatrician who trained us to provide high-quality palliative care. Technically, that made me a basic palliative care provider because I didn't have a certification in that specialty.
If you or someone you love are going through end-of-life experiences—help is always available.
How to find a hospice and palliative care provider?
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is a national organization that can connect you to palliative care providers. You can visit their website, enter your zip code or the type of provider that you're looking for, and you can connect with healthcare providers in your area.
Check out the Medicare website and in the Provider Type section, select “Hospice Care”. Enter your zip code, and then it will tell you what providers are available in your area.
About Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN:
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing ('96) and Master of Science in Nursing ('00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I genuinely enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home, and office visits), then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-master's Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing ('11). I then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 which led to me joining the George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing faculty in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor. I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health, and Humanities. Please find out more about her work at https://melissabphd.com/.