A Frank Discussion about End of Life Decision Making

Course Leader(s)
Day of Week: Tuesday
Course Length: 5 weeks
Starting: 10/24/2023
Ending: 11/28/2023
Period of Day: Period 2 In-Person
Time: 11:30 - 1:00
Course Fee: $50

Course Description:

This class is for serious discussions about the end of life decision making and is for people who are personally approaching the ends of their lives or who have partners, family members, or close friends at this stage. It will address legal preparation (wills, healthcare proxies, powers of attorney) and other planning (long term care and funeral arrangements). Another topic will be where to live: at home – alone or with caregiving; at an assisted living facility; in a memory care unit. We will discuss what kinds of conversations to have with family members. We will consider what to do if one gets terminally ill or develops dementia – and the role of a Health Care Advocate. We will consider what is involved in palliative or hospice care. Before we meet in person, I will send out a questionnaire to you.

Each class will start with a lecture, followed by discussion of issues raised by the participants and the readings. Plan on about 2 hours for each class session. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, is a history of his father’s journey from a diagnosis of spinal cord cancer to his ultimate death. Both father and son are surgeons. The book is a good introduction to our course and you should have read the first five chapters by the time the course starts, and the remaining chapters by the end of the second week.  The Conversation Project can be done online. There is some reading on their website and you can read the topics as they relate to course subjects of the week. The biggest item is to learn how and when to talk with your family about your end of life wishes. We will practice in class how to talk with family. The Beauty of What Remains, by Steve Leder, is a very short book about Rabbi Steve and relates his history of doing thousands of funerals and taking care of and dealing with his father, who had dementia.

Books and Other Resources:

Gawande, Atul.  Being Mortal, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

Leder, Steven.  The Beauty of What Remains, Avery, 2021.

Conversation Project (online)

Course Leader Bio(s)

Peter Goldberg

I had a general dental practice in Brookline, MA. I was on the staff of the Mass General Hospital Dept of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. I taught Maxillofacial Prosthetics at the Harvard Dental School. I treated patients that had congenital head and neck defects, trauma and head and neck cancer, and have spent the last seven years as a volunteer with the Hebrew Senior Life Hospice at Newbridge and with Hebrew Senior Life at Newbridge, prior to the covid epidemic.