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New Resources Support Patients Seeking An Empowered Death

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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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