Welcome to the latest entry to Passare’s Expert Series, a forum that allows our End-of-Life planning and management experts to speak directly to you. Today we welcome Passare expert partner Karen Kelleher, an End-of-Life healthcare professional specializing in degenerative brain illnesses like Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Karen is Director of Traditions Memory Care at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living (RCJL), a long-term care facility in Northern California. She provides education and training for caregivers and families by implementing innovative therapeutic programs.
Passare: Welcome Karen. Please tell us how you became involved in End-of-Life healthcare and education.
Karen: I became concerned about End-of-Life healthcare and planning after watching both my mother and grandmother suffer from Alzheimer’s. The suboptimal care they received sparked my passion to help make important changes in End-of-Life healthcare. I began by asking myself, “How can I serve in a better way than treating someone as a bed or room number? How can I better support people on their End-of-Life journey?”
Passare: Why is End-of-Life healthcare planning so important?
Karen: There seems to be a taboo in much of Western culture about planning for – and even talking about End-of-Life. Society has real fear and denial about this topic. An example would be taking a trip and not packing or planning where to go. The less we plan, the more crisis-oriented the process becomes.
Our culture’s focus on diversion and entertainment doesn’t help us plan for End-of-Life or to think about it in a meaningful way. When we are faced with our own fragility, we are often unprepared to cope.
Passare: What End-of-Life healthcare planning issues should people consider?
Karen: It’s important to look at the practicality and feasibility of End-of-Life healthcare. Elders are living longer today. Modern medicine and treatment is making this increasingly the case. Many of my residents now need very long-term care. The longevity issue makes End-of-Life care planning more important than ever. You or a loved one could need long-term care much longer than your elders did.
Read Karen Kelleher’s full interview here.