MBR Explores End-of-life Issues

In the coming decade, our society will experience a demographic “age wave” as Baby-boomers begin to move into senior ranks.  On the whole in this country, we are living longer but not always healthier lives, and more people these days are living to become frail elders.  Many medical interventions to prolong life that were unheard of a generation ago are now considered routine, and individuals are often put in the difficult position of having to make decisions about their loved one’s care without having a clear sense of what that loved one may have wanted.
On Thursday, February 7th, close to 50 people attended a panel presentation and training on end-of-life decision-making with Rabbi Herman Blumberg of Hebrew SeniorLife, Rabbi Julie Wolkoff of Care Alternatives Hospice, Dr. Robert Warren, Palliative Care Medical Director at Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston and Rabbi Judy Kummer of the Jewish Chaplaincy Council of Massachusetts.  A combination of lecture/training and havruta learning provided the diverse audience of rabbis, chaplains and hospice workers a unique window into the issues we all face as we consider end-of-life challenges for ourselves, our loved ones and the people we serve.
It is extremely important to contemplate in advance of medical emergencies what our wishes will be with regard to our healthcare and the limits we would want placed on medical interventions.  Our congregants and any others in our care will benefit greatly by having clergy with the specialized skills need to guide them as they explore their feelings on this topic.
Participants left the Training with a comprehensive overview of the topic and of the resources available in our community as well as with some basic clinical skills to broach the topic and conduct discussions with others.