How Better Communication Can Help Patients Die with Dignity

Nov 6, 2014

Credit Alex Proimos / Flickr

With the recent assisted suicide of a woman in Oregon named Brittany Maynard, we want to talk about how conversations on death and dying are changing, or need to change between medical professionals and terminally ill patients and their families. 

Dr. Robert M. Arnold, professor of medicine and Medical Director at UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute says before the need for assisted suicide comes up, we need to look at how quality of life can be better for people who are terminally ill.

Dr. Arnold explains that a greater awareness of end-of-life care has emerged because in recent years so many baby boomers have had to deal with their parents’ illnesses and deaths.

Living wills are important tools for end-of-life concerns, Arnold feels, because they let families know what their loved one’s values and desires are. This gives families the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’re doing what their ailing family member wants to be done.

There’s more and more of a push for living wills, observes Arnold, and federal legislation has even been proposed in order to promote their use.