NPR Show Discusses Hospice and “Comfort Care”, Advance Directives

Joshua Johnson, host of NPR’s 1A

The NPR show and podcast 1A recently held a discussion with former radio personality Diane Rehm and medical experts, prompted by the news that former First Lady Barbara Bush had chosen “comfort care” in the last days of her life.

The episode discusses a pretty broad range of topics for a thirty minute segment: when to choose hospice, aid-in-dying, and how to choose a power of attorney were among the highlights. Several listeners also gave their stories, and even the host talked about how hard it was to make a living will and think about his own mortality at a young age.

The link to the page for this particular podcast and show can be found here; it provides comments, links and information on the presenters.

Rehm was featured not only because her show had been the predecessor for 1A until her retirement, but also because her husband died after long-term self-deprivation of fluids and food. It’s one of the more difficult parts to listen to, and serves to point out the ethical difficulties many find in medically-assisted suicide or aid-in-dying.

It’s a good listen for anyone working in hospice but would also be great to pass along to families who are contemplating hospice or even as an educational piece for medical students or health care workers not familiar with hospice. It doesn’t explain everything or answer every question, but it does get the conversation started.


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