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Think Out Loud

Ira Byock Advocates Better Care At The End Of Life

Pete Springer/OPB

Death is not something that’s easy to talk about. And according to palliative care doctor, Ira Byock, it’s also not something that the medical profession deals very well with. He says often when someone is being treated at the end of their lives, doctors and others act like death is something that could be avoided altogether. But in his new book, The Best Care Possible, he argues:

[A] transformation is needed in the way our society and culture — not merely our health care system — cares for seriously ill people and supports family caregivers.

Byock’s critiques of the current system are informed by his experience watching his parents care for his maternal grandmother at the end of her life. And his first book, Dying Well, coincided with the death of his father, making end of life care, not only his professional life’s work but also something deeply personal.

Do you have experience caring for a loved one at the end of their life? What would have made a difference for you? 

Editor’s note: Ira Byock will be giving a free lecture at the White Stag building in downtown Portland tonight at 7 p.m.

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OPB | Broadcast: Jan. 25, 2013