Loading...
Bless the heart of the county commissioners, I think we all will come knocking on your doors when we receive our new...

Black people must command end-of-life care

Brandi Alexander

Brandi Alexander

Loading…

Friday, February 23, 2018

As we celebrate Black History Month, one of our goals should be to change the history of African-Americans like my father enduring needless suffering when we die because we don’t prepare for the inevitable end of life.

When my father’s cancer came out of remission in 2010, he declined in a matter of months. I had never had one conversation with him about his end-of-life care goals, preferences and values, so he suffered terribly during his last days. My family spent so much time fighting over what we thought he wanted, when in reality, none of us knew what he really wanted. That experience taught me not only the importance of these discussions, but also how much of a need there is for us to start planning early, before a time of crisis.

Unfortunately, African-Americans are less likely to complete advance directives or have conversations with our families and health care providers about our their end-of-life care goals, preference and values, according to a 2014 report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It is critical that our community begin focusing on advance care planning about the end-of-life care options, including educating ourselves about the value of hospice and palliative care.

The sad truth is that we suffer from higher rates of health care outcome disparities caused by smoking, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. By not having frequent conversations about end-of-life care options early, to prepare before a health emergency occurs, people of color often opt for aggressive, futile medical treatments that only prolong an agonizing dying process. African Americans are less likely to access comfort care, hospice and palliative care to maximize the quality of remaining life.

In fact, while representing more than 13 percent of our nation’s population, according to U.S. Census data, we account for only 8 percent of hospice users.

Unlike many of the other disparities that impact the community, this is one we actually have some control over. It starts with having a conversation. Unfortunately too many of us are not having discussions. In fact, 20 percent of African-Americans have not talked to anyone about end-of-life care, according to research conducted by the Duke Divinity School and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Every individual has a responsibility to lead by example on health care issues, so I challenge you to start having conversations today, with your personal networks and your health care professionals. Complete an advanced directive and identify your power of attorney, the person who will make decisions for you in the case that you can not speak for yourself. The most loving thing you can do is to make your wishes known to your loved ones, it provides peace for all involved.

Tomorrow is not promised, so whether you want every treatment option available or none at all, it’s imperative to make sure it is clear to those who matter to you the most. Start this process by visiting Compassion & Choices website page, compassionandchoices.org/plan-your-care, where one can access state-specific advance directives and find other resources and tools to help, free of charge.

We even offer a diagnosis decoder that generates questions for physicians specific to a particular illness. Educating and utilizing these resources will not only empower you, it will also have a positive and lasting impact on our community as a whole and the way we experience end of life. Remember ... talking about death will not kill you ... advocate for yourself!

Brandi Alexander is the national constituency director for Compassion & Choices, the nation's largest, oldest and most active nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding and improving patient-driven, end-of-life care options.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…

kathrynlopez

June 09, 2019

Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. But if Mexican officials think these Republicans are going to save them from Trump's tariffs, it's time for them to think again.

So far, congressional Republicans have managed to remain bystanders in Trump's…

MarcThiessen

June 08, 2019

In 1940, some 3.6 million people lived in North Carolina, ranking the state 11th in the nation in population and first in the Southeast. Across the South as a whole, only Texas (6.4 million) was more populous.

If present trends continue, by 2040 North Carolina will have a population of about 12.7…

john hood.jpg

June 08, 2019

The Charlotte Observer

How much money is too much for a high school football coach? North Carolina’s second largest school district has provided something of an answer.

Last month, Vance High School coach Aaron Brand cashed in on a successful five-year run in Charlotte and accepted a coaching…

June 08, 2019

In 1788 the Hillsborough Convention convened to consider ratification of the U.S. Constitution and also to approve an “unalterable” seat of government. They did neither.

The Constitution, they determined, lacked assurances of personal rights the delegates deemed essential and, after…

Tom Campbell
222 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 23
        Next Page»   Last Page»