As I travel for Jewish Sacred Aging, often the issue of pain and pain mangement comes up in discussions. Often these discussions emerge within the context of Q and A in the End of Life workshop around hospice care or advanced illness. And, more often than not, the subject of palliative care comes up. There seems to be some misunderstanding about this now recognized medical speciality. I had the priveldge of interviewing Dr Diane Meier on the Boomer Generation Radio (1) show this past Tuesday, March 24. (look for pod-cast soon on jewishsacredaging.com) Dr Meier is the Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care in New York City. She spoke of the lack of real knowledge on the part of the public, and also some of the medical community, on the nature and impact of palliative care. She affirmed a recent Brown University study that found 1 in 5 nursing home directors had less than adequate knowledge of palliative care. She spoke often of the fact that such care is not just for end of life situations. This care is especially important for us in the Jewish community for tradition is clear that there is no theological value in a person enduring undue pain. In a written statement forwarded to me for background , Meier noted that: “Nearly 2/3 of American hospitals now have a palliative care team. People receiving palliative care report better quality of life, ability to function, understanding of their options and feeling back in control of their lives. As people become more aware of its benefits, demand for quality palliative care will continue to grow among patients with serious illness and their families”.
This issue of pain mangement, not only at the end of life, but in serious illness situations, is a subject that will continue to gain importance. I think many of us know people who have had to travel down this road. Dr Meier did give out a web site that she suggested is a good resource for gathering further information on the issue as well as suggested specialists. That web site is: www.getpalliativecare.org.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
(1) Boomer Generation Radio airs in the local Philadelphia marker Tuesdays at 10.00am-11.00am on WWDB am 860. It streams live on wwdbam.com and you can follow, and “like” the show as well on Facebook. Just enter boomer generation radio.