Wednesday, August 12, 2009

End of Life Counseling

Submitted VIA Senator Contact Forms found at for all three Senators.

Dear Senator Grassley:

I am not from Iowa so I am sure my opinion means little to you. However, I was quite concerned about your statement regarding end of life counseling. I do not know if you have had a close family member or friend use hospice services at the end of their life. I have, twice, my father and my grandfather. By the time my father was in hospice, he suffered from severe dementia. When my grandfather entered hospice, he still had a sharp mind, it was his body that was failing him.

End of life counseling provided my grandfather and our family the opportunity to discuss which medical treatments he wanted, which were too painful or pointless, who would take care of him when, and what kind of treatment/assistance with pain he could/would be given. You say that he needed this counseling 20 years before his death. I could not disagree more. While you are right that we all should take the time to discuss our end of life wishes with our families, we do not know the manner or the time in which we will leave this earth. If my grandfather had had this counseling twenty years prior, it would have been useless. The pain medication he received was "new". Twenty years prior to his death, I was an infant. You see, I moved in with my grandparents to help take care of him. The treatment options he needed to consider were also not yet discovered.

I would like to thank you for reminding people to talk to their families about end of life issues. But I would ask you to please not heat up the rhetoric on an issue as important as this one by confusing people with statements like the ones you made regarding this vital service.

Finally, I would like to know your basis for telling people they should be concerned about a government program which would "determine[] if you're going to pull the plug on grandma." I agree wholeheartedly that if such a program were to be proposed, it should be opposed. But no one is proposing such a thing. Why would you intentionally frighten citizens with talk like this?



cc: Senators Levin & Stabenow

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