Being Mortal: Your Health Matters
By Leslee B. Cochrane, MD
This year Good Friday was just a few days before tax day, serving as a fateful reminder of the two things in life which no one can avoid—death and taxes. Although I am not an accountant, I am told that if you need more time to prepare your taxes, you can fill out a form and request a six month extension. Unfortunately, in my line of work as a doctor, we don’t have any forms we can file to request an extension when death approaches. The best advice I can offer is to take some time now to prepare yourself and your family because unlike taxes, we don’t know when death will occur.
If you don’t like talking about death, you are not alone as it seems most doctors are not comfortable talking about death either. In his bestselling book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” Dr. Atul Gawande tackles one of the most difficult challenges of his profession—what to do when there is no cure. The book serves as the basis of a moving PBS Frontline documentary that follows the lives of several patients through their end-of-life journey. Although each story is unique, they all have one thing in common—the families each needed to make very difficult end-of-life decisions. If you are interested in seeing “Being Mortal,” Hospice of the Valleys will provide free screenings throughout the year, including a screening on Sunday, May 21at Calvary Chapel Murrieta, and Thursday, May 25 at the Mary Phillips Senior Center in Temecula.
Although there is nothing I can do or say as a physician that will make it easy to make these difficult end-of-life decisions, I have discovered a very helpful planning tool called Five Wishes that is easy to use and can be completed in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Five Wishes is the first living will that addresses your personal, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as your medical wishes. Hospice of the Valleys will be hosting free, public workshops on completing the Five Wishes living will throughout the year.
To find out more about the “Being Mortal” documentary or Five Wishes, please visit our website.