Symposium encourages end-of-life conversations

Oct 14, 2019

The end of life is part of the human condition. It's hard on families and difficult to navigate. Speakers in Calvary Episcopal Church's Common Ground series yesterday say the key is planning, particularly on the part of the dying individual.

Panelists Sunday discussed end of life issues during Calvary Episcopal Church's Common Ground series.
Credit Mike Desmond

Hospice Buffalo vice president for clinical education and patient advocacy Kelley Clem encouraged those in attendance to "have that first layer of conversation" regarding death.

Speakers encouraged discussion on individual wishes  on burial or cremation and whether or not to use "heroic measures" to keep the person alive.

Reverend Cathy Dempesy-Sims is canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal bishop of Western New York and northwest Pennsylvania. She says early discussion can help when it comes to  the issues of medicine keeping people alive and what to do when the resulting quality of life is poor.
"Should we continue to do this intervention? Because, as time goes by, we can continue to keep people alive for a very long time. And so: How do we make that decision?," Dempesy-Sims asked.

The panel discussion was built around the book "Being Mortal" from surgeon Atul Gawande.

Speakers used the discussion to stress the importance of filling out health care proxy paperwork.