Osher “Closure” Course Provides End-of-Life Education to Older Adults

 For the fifth year, Jewish Healthcare Foundation's (JHF's) end-of-life staff are leading a class at Carnegie Mellon University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. "Closure: Discussing the Last Chapter" is adapted from the JHF Closure curriculum and provides adult learners with the opportunity to increase their understanding of issues around serious illness, advance care planning, and the very personal concepts of what constitutes "a good life" and "a good death." 

The series kicked off on January 11 with a 90-minute session held via Zoom. Nancy Zionts, COO and chief program officer, Judy Black, MD, MHA, medical advisor, and Lisa George, senior communications and program specialist, provided an overview of the historical aspects of end-of-life care and why having conversations around end of life is so important—before a healthcare crisis occurs. Additional sessions are focused on advance directives, POLST (Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), and palliative care and hospice. The POLST session included the opportunity to learn via case studies presented by Dr. Black and guest faculty Kalpana Char, MD, Suzanne Labriola, DO, and Libby Moore. 

In addition to the weekly presentations, participants also receive extensive resources to support them in having often-challenging conversations with their family members about what they would want at the end of life. The series concludes on February 8 with a session crafted around participants' areas of interest, including a presentation on grief and small-group discussions of advance directives for persons with dementia, physician aid in dying, and organ donation.

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