End of life wishes

Have you expressed your end of life wishes to your loved ones? Do you know their wishes? If you have had that discussion, chances are it wasn’t an easy conversation to initiate. The dialogue may have begun after you experienced or heard about someone else’s tragic experience. If you haven’t already made your wishes known and asked your loved ones about theirs, then maybe it’s time to consider the conversation.

On Thursday, September 4, a free community education presentation called “Discussing Your Loved One’s Wishes” is being offered. Ronda Dudley RN, MBA, Director of Memorial Home Services and Hospice will present the program, addressing the common discomfort associated with death and helping you find ways to open the discussion to learn about your loved one’s wishes.  The program is based on the popular film “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject.” 

Sarah Karraker, MSW is a licensed clinical social worker at Passavant Hospital who will discuss advance directives and provide take home planning materials for families at the program.

 “Consider the Conversation” is a series of films created by two friends with a significant passion for respectful end of life care. Terry Kaldhusdal and Michael Bernhagen created these films with the goal of to “inspire culture change that results in end-of-life care that is more person-centered and less system-centered” (according to their website www.considertheconversation.org).

The first film, “Consider the Conversation: a Documentary on a Taboo Subject” is “an intimate story about the American struggle with communication and preparation for life’ s end and includes the perspectives of patients, family members, doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy, and national experts from around the country.” The film was release in 2011 and is available to purchase from www.considertheconversation.org or on Amazon. The film has also aired on PBS.

The second film “Consider the Conversation 2: Stories about Cure, Relief, and Comfort” premiered on Wisconsin Public Television last May and will be released to national public television stations on September 26, 2014. 

At the program at Passavant on September 4, Ronda will show the first film and lead a discussion based on its content. Ronda says her goal is to “open up the conversation and educate people on the importance of having these conversations.” 

Ronda says “People tend to put that (conversation) off until later. I’ve personally seen families struggle with these decisions at the end of their loved one’s lives. It’s ok to talk about it. It’s ok to talk about these things while you’re young, before you get sick, or before something happens. When people have these conversations, it provides peace of mind and really alleviates family stress.”

Ronda is a registered nurse who has a great deal of experience caring for people at the end of their lives, as well as their families. She worked in long term care as a Director of Nursing for 18 years before getting a masters degree. Four and a half years ago, she accepted the role of Director of Home Health and Hospice with Memorial Health System.

Ronda says she made this career move because she had seen the benefit of hospice in her work in long term care, and she says, “I just really loved what home health and hospice were doing and could see the way it was going to grow in the years to come. I really have a passion for that next step in the continuum.”

Ronda is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and suggestions for opening up this conversation with your loved ones. Please join her at Passavant Area Hospital for this free community event and a light meal on Thursday, September 4 at 6:00pm in Meeting Rooms 2 and 3 at Passavant. To register, please call Passavant’s Community Programs Registration Line at 217-479-5800.

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