This article was written for the Diverse Elders Coalition by Five Wishes.
Rosa was age 85, a widow, and doing great. She enjoyed good health, many friends and was involved in social activities at her church and in her community. Her children and grandchildren would say, only half-jokingly, that Rosa was healthier and more active than any of them and would likely outlive them all. Even her own doctor was impressed that a woman of her age was as alert and physically able as any patient half her age.
It really never occurred to Rosa or Rosa’s family that it might be smart to plan ahead in case she had an accident or suffered a severe.... Read More
As Death Approaches, Older Indian Americans Unprepared for the End
The 88-year-old man looked gray and emaciated, the outline of his collarbones clearly visible under the loose fitting gown he wore as he lay in a narrow hospital bed in an East Bay nursing home. His eyes were closed, his mouth agape. A tube delivered both medicine and food directly into his stomach. He didn’t appear to know what was going on around him.
Nearly two years ago, aspiration pneumonia put Chandra Bhatia (his wife asked that his real name not be used) in the hospital. Since then, other health crises have.... Read More
Differences in NYC’s Chinese Elders End-of-Life Care Preferences
Scholars at Fordham University in New York presented their recent research on Chinese seniors’ perspectives about advance directives and end-of-life (EOL) preferences at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting, held in Boston in November. Because most studies on this subject “treat Asians as one group,” the researchers differentiated Mandarin and Cantonese speakers to discern any differences in their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward end-of-life care.
The researchers said their preliminary findings show that the 150 Chinese elders who spoke Mandarin have somewhat higher knowledge about and more positive attitudes towards having a health care proxy to make decisions for them, should.... Read More
The Ways Inequality Affects Black Americans at the End of Life
by Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez. This article originally appeared on Next Avenue.
Jodi Savage was her grandmother’s caretaker in her last days. Like many black Americans, her grandmother’s cultural beliefs and religious background led to very little discussion around the end of life. Culturally speaking, black Americans on the whole tend to avoid discussing end-of-life topics for fear of speaking things into existence. Focus is placed on making the best of the time you’re given. A lack of cultural competency from physicians led to a misunderstanding of Savage’s grandmother’s needs and minimal support through the death-planning process. Savage.... Read More
While enjoying her 72nd year on the planet, Donna Personna knows her remaining days are numbered. Yet the prospect of her demise doesn’t scare her.
“The end question. ‘The end.’ It’s not a touchy subject for me. I’m irreverent,” said Personna, a transgender woman who grew up in San Jose and now lives in San Francisco. “I learned long ago this was going to come.”
Personna, a beloved drag performer, playwright, and hairdresser, credits her Mexican heritage with teaching her that death is a part of life. She pointed to the annual Dia de los Muertos holiday — the Day of the Dead in.... Read More
Challenges Loom for Growing Elderly Filipino American Population
The gracefully dressed, pixie-haired 78-year-old has been a breast-cancer survivor the past 16 years. “When I got diagnosed, I said so be it,” she said. “But I’m thankful to God for saving my life.”
She has also been battling diabetes. “I control my food and take my medicine,” she said while hanging out with friends at the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco. “I eat a small amount of rice and more protein, vegetables and fruits.”
Health and other concerns pertaining to older Filipino Americans, such as de Guzman, are expected only to heighten as this.... Read More
We most often hear the phrase “Until Death Do Us Part” at weddings, when a couple commits to fidelity and love for one another until one of them dies. The traditional wedding vows say nothing about what accompanying someone to death involves. And the vast majority of us have no training in what the dying process involves and what is required to sit with a loved one as they are dying.
My mom died in December at age 95. In reflecting on the end of her life, “until death do us part” is the phrase that keeps coming to mind. I think our bonds to parents and family are as deep as any marriage vow, and they span more of.... Read More
Tomorrow, April 16th, is National Healthcare Decisions Day. The Diverse Elders Coalition encourages all of our elders, their families, and our communities to start conversations with one another about end-of-life choice and advance directives. Today’s blog post comes from Compassion & Choices‘ Kimberly Callinan and originally appeared in the Virginian-Pilot.
My grandmother died feeling betrayed, frightened and utterly powerless in a bleak hospital room.
She’d completed an advance directive about her end-of-life goals, preferences and values, including a Do Not Resuscitate order. But when an emergency landed her in the hospital, the emergency room team ignored her advance.... Read More
My mother is 94 years old and was admitted to hospice care a month ago. Getting there was a huge life/medical milestone for her and our family involving multiple doctor visits, calls and meetings with staff from two assisted living facilities, calls to her HMO and the hospice organization, meetings with hospice staff, emails and meetings with family members, forms signed and sent, and endless scheduling. Mom ended up moving from one facility to a sister facility with a higher level of care, so I also organized packing, movers and family help within a compressed time period. It was a withering amount of logistics.
Reflecting upon this recent period, I glean three key learnings about how to navigate this transition.... Read More
Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus at Creating Change 2016
The National LGBTQ Task Force held its annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago, IL this past week, and it was insightful and awesome. The conference offered several workshops to address the needs of diverse elders. I had the honor to co-facilitate the Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus with Vega Subramaniam and Ben Guzman as we engaged in rich conversation with diverse elders across this country to explore the needs and perceived barriers to adequately service our LGBTQ seniors.
This quick glimpse into the genuine lives of our participants expanded our knowledge and helped us develop a brief list of concerns.... Read More
Aging With Pride: End of Life Conversations in Tucson’s Elder LGBT Communities
Penelope Starr is a writer, artist, founder and producer of Odyssey Storytelling, restorer of Navajo rugs, LGBT advocate and a new citizen folklorist. Her book, Stories Uncensored: The Radical Act of Community Storytelling will be coming out in 2016.
Death and dying is a taboo subject. Add to that the invisibility of being an elder lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person and there is a lot to NOT talk about. What are the special problems this marginalized class of people might face and how are their needs being addressed? What are the challenges and strategies that are specific to the communities.... Read More
April 16th marks the 8th annual National Healthcare Decisions Day, a commemoration that exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and healthcare providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD organizers encourage all adults – regardless of age or health – to have end-of-life talks with their family members and medical providers and set up their advance directives.
The NHDD website offers a number of free resources for healthcare planning, as well as opportunities in all fifty states to connect with local organizers and participate in an NHDD event. We encourage our constituents and coalition members to check.... Read More