Palliative Care Conference addresses end-of-life questions

Palliative Care Conference addresses end-of-life questions

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The 2019 Palliative Care Conference was hosted Thursday at the Mankato Civic Center, inviting the community to have a conversation about the end of a life and how to prepare for it.

The End-of-Life Experience: A Community Conversation with doctors, caretakers and family members.

“The issue is that we live in a culture where we consider death as a failure and even talking about treatment options is considered as giving up if you decide not to pursue things aggressively and the odd thing about that is sometimes people do better when they make more thoughtful choice,” said Dr. Greg Kutcher, M.D., a hospice medical director with the Mayo Clinic Health System.

Speakers at the conference included two sisters who helped their mother pass peacefully while she suffered from life-ending diseases.

“She wanted to have her pacemaker deactivated, so we went through the medical system, with some frustrations, trying to make that happen until we used hospice and palliative care to help reach that goal,” said conference speaker, Sheila Callander.

The sisters took care of their mother for years, but their mother's mind was made up long before that.

“She had written her health care directive, probably 13 years before her death, she knew exactly what she wanted,” said conference speaker, Laurel Brummund.

The sisters said communication simplified the process.

“You’re not under that pressure, what do I need to decide, do I feel guilt about this, is it the right decision, so having lots of conversations ahead of time makes it much easier for the patient and the family,” said Callander.

“People need to understand that death is really part of life and it’s not a bad thing, it’s not a thing to fear. In America, we’re afraid of death and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Brummund.

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