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Aging in Place at the End of Life: How Palliative Care Can Help


In this episode of Help Choose Home, we are joined by Dr. Timothy Ihrig, the chief medical officer of Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care. He is also the founder and chief executive officer of Ihrig MD and Associates. He is an internationally recognized expert in hospice and palliative care and a second-time guest of the show.

Topics discussed include:

  • When to recognize if curative medical treatments are actually causing harm to an elderly patient
  • How the financial imperatives of the medical industry lead to unnecessary invasive treatments
  • Why becoming comfortable with death is the secret to living a full life

Conversation Highlights:

Dr. Ihrig identifies caring for elderly ill people as the greatest social issue of our time, especially in light of COVID-19. He aims to empower people to make better choices at the end of life in order to give them more agency.

Many physicians are trained to identify and treat disease, sometimes to the holistic detriment of the person being treated. Dr. Ihrig shares a story from his time as a second-year internal medicine resident, when he witnessed a death that affected him profoundly.

This event, combined with the experience of losing his mother to lung disease and rapidly progressing dementia, opened his eyes to the limited options the elderly have once they are hospitalized. He advocates for allowing people to choose whether they want curative treatments, or whether they would rather have their pain managed at home.

Dr. Ihrig encourages listeners to pay attention to that little voice inside them that can tell them how their body is doing and what course of treatment is best for them. He advises patients to seek second opinions from additional healthcare providers, and to advocate for themselves to doctors. Finally, Dr. Ihrig invites listeners with personal questions to email him and start a conversation.

After listening to this episode, you will come away with a greater understanding of how becoming comfortable with the inevitability of death can lead patients to make more informed decisions about how they want to live. You may even be inspired to reach out to Dr. Ihrig with questions or discuss end-of-life directives with your loved ones.

You can listen to this episode here, or on Apple Podcasts, Google, YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts.

To learn more about starting conversations about the end of life with your loved ones, listen to my conversation with Beth Cavenaugh, a certified hospice and palliative care nurse and author of Some Light at the End: An End-of-Life Guidebook for Patients and Their Caregivers. Learn how palliative care can help those living with chronic and long-term illnesses remain comfortable at home.

If this episode has been helpful, be sure to leave a five-star review and share the podcast with your friends to help us in the national effort to educate about home healthcare options. You can connect with our host Merrily Orsini on Twitter: @MerrilyO.

Sponsors

The Help Choose Home podcast series is a collaborative effort by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Axxess and corecubed to educate the public about the many benefits of the in-home care industry, which includes non-medical home care, private duty nursing care, medical home health, hospice and other in-home health and wellness services.

Access the full Help Choose Home podcast library here.

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