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New Resources Support Patients Seeking An Empowered Death

By HERWriter Guide
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None of us wants to die, but all of us will. The process can be especially difficult for those with a terminal illness such as cancer. A nonprofit consumer organization, and the national professional organization for doctors who treat many terminal patients, want to change expectations for end-of-life. Both now offer services online to support people in planning and managing their final days.

Closure is a non-profit organization established by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in Pittsburgh, Pa. Their purpose is "to empower consumers and healthcare professionals with easy-to-access, simple-to-understand information and resources to make educated decisions about end-of-life care." In what they term "community conversations," the program teaches families how to talk with each other and their doctors about what they want — and want to avoid — in their final days. Sessions are held in hospitals, religious centers and neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. Now, through the Closure website, any one can use their resources and tools.

The site includes a "Getting Started" section for patients and families, as well as a section for health care professionals. Resources include:

• Self Assessment: A personalized online survey to pinpoint the most important end-of-life issues and direct users to more information.

• National Resources: Quick links to useful websites and online tools that can broaden knowledge about end-of-life care issues and aid in decision-making.

• Helpful Tools: Important documents and tools for end-of-life planning that can be downloaded and completed.

• Books and Manuals: A listing of books and manuals dealing with end-of-life care issues.

• Useful Terms: An online glossary of important terms and acronyms for patients and families.

The organization is just part of a growing movement toward providing more support to enable patients to make more decisions about the end of their life. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently began providing a 24-page downloadable guide for patients at their consumer website, http://www.cancer.net/

"Advanced Cancer Care Planning" was developed for those with terminal cancer.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.