Living at the end of life: the TR Twist

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Photo credit: CanStockPhoto

I had the privilege to attend a training session titled:

“Living at the end of life: the TR twist.”

I only attended part 1 out of the 2 training sessions.

This session was provided at the ATRA annual conference in the Chicago-area on Tue. Sept. 13th by:

Barb Stuebing, CTRS/R; and Lisa Frazior, CTRS.

 

Who attended?

They asked people to raise hands at different times: do you work with geriatrics? Community? Behavioral health?

I [Danny Pettry] was the only one in the room who worked with pediatrics.

One of the reasons I did attend: I started out in college way back in the late 90s thinking I would be a rec therapist with seniors in a skilled nursing setting or a nursing home or community for seniors. However, my first job was with pediatrics in behavioral health and I’ve worked there for 14+  years. I wanted this session as a re-fresher for working with people on the other end of the age spectrum.

 

Danny Pettry comments:

  • the truth is: we all die. It isn’t something we often talk about in our society. However, it happens. It is part of the life cycle.
  • The speakers asked how many of us were comfortable talking about it?
  • I proudly felt: I can do this because I am a mental health counselor, too. We received some discussion cards. My two partners in my small group became tearful. Why is that so contagious? I didn’t have physical tears, but my heart was crying. We discussed people in our own family.  I hope my parents don’t read this blog entry – but to be honest, I told them I attend this session because I know my parents are getting elderly and I know they won’t live forever and I know most likely they will pass away before me (unless I’m in an accident – which is likely because I’m on the interstate driving a lot). But It was tough stuff.
  • I didn’t attend part 2 of this training (the after lunch part) for a few reasons: I attended the mindfulness training, which is something I teach at work to kids, but have not had official training in, and because I had plugged the mindfulness training during the one I presented, and because this was just an emotional session. They had tissues.

Here is a link for the cards I was telling you about:

http://codaalliance.org/ (the link has a lot of resources).

Here is a link directly to the cards I was talking about: http://codaalliance.org/go-wish/

The cards ask many things about death and dying. I want to get copy of them.

 

The speakers shared how sometimes a person would bring up a tough subject during recreation. They might be playing cards and feel distracted and feel open to share: I think I’m dying. I think it is my time.

The speakers wanted to know how many in the audience were capable and prepared to deal with that.

 

It is hard.

Danny Pettry experiences: I was completing a 60 hour practicum as a senior living facility. I was going several days a week. (this was probably early 2002 or early 2001). It was spring. One elderly guy was 100-years-old and active. His hobby was making wooden toys. He had a lot of them and they were very good quality: trucks, cards, boats, dolls. I was sitting beside him on the porch by the humming bird feeder that didn’t have any birds yet because it was too early in the season. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said he wanted me to be there. His wife had passed. His only child had passed from old-age. His siblings had passed. He was alone, except for the wonderful staff and other people at the facility. I showed up on his birthday. He had passed the day before. I went through the stages: denial, anger, depression. It took me a while to accept it. And I had only known this guy for a few weeks. It is tough stuff. I admire the people who work with this population.

 

The presenters spoke that the goal is: provide the best quality of life right now. When people participate they are often able to process stuff. Danny Pettry: I thought this sounded a lot like mindfulness and being in the moment. Focusing on the future causes anxiety and worry.

 

The speakers presented about getting prepared:

  • having a health care power of attorney,
  • advance directive,
  • living will,
  • 5-wishes, and
  • polst.

DannyPettry: my father had told me many years ago that he had assigned my younger brother to that. He said because he lives closer and in town and could make a quick decision. I personally think my dad made that choice because he was afraid I wouldn’t say pull the plug like he wants. However, I think being more passionate, I’d be able to do so to stop the suffering (if that were to happen). I hope he goes peacefully in his sleep when it happens.

 

I didn’t attend part 2 (as I said above).

They played the David Bowie video on youtube (Changes) because they were talking about making changes in how care is provided. I felt a bit sad then too because I’m a David Bowie fan and he has passed away earlier this year. I’m not sure the speakers were aware of that. They may have been.

Below is a video Bowie released right before he passed away that I think is interesting. The presenters didn’t play the video below: