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Community Nurses event to educate on end-of-life decisions

November 2, 2011

Photo by Amy Cherry - Community Nurses Education Coordinator Julie Heary, R.N., and Karen Leithner, R.N., hospice manager, prepare information packets which will be provided to attendees at the organization's upcoming "Preparing for a Graceful Journey" event that will address end-of-life decisions.

In an effort to educate the public about end-of-life options, Community Nurses, Inc. is sponsoring "Preparing for a Graceful Journey," a free event open to the public that will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 6-8 p.m. in the small conference room at The Red Fern in St. Marys.
"The whole point of this event is education and communication. Our goal is to help people plan ahead and make informed choices," said Ann Bauer, Community Nurses marketing director/public relations. "We're trying to educate people on all of these aspects of end-of-life care that they need to know about and empower them to communicate that to the people they need to communicate it to (including family, friends, doctors, physicians, any healthcare agent that takes care of them and home health nurses)."
The event will feature a series of speakers presenting the following topics: "Conversations Before the Crisis" by Julie Heary, R.N., Community Nurses education coordinator; "Wills, Estate Planning and Durable Power of Attorney" by Jake Meyer, attorney at law; "Understanding Advance Directives" by Anne Pearson, R.N., Elk Regional Health Center; "Options for End-of-Life Care" by Brook Bower from Area Agency of Aging and Karen Leithner, R.N., Community Nurses hospice manager; and "Funeral and Burial Decisions" by Michelle Muccio of Lynch-Green Funeral Home.
The presentations will be followed by a question-and-answer session, resource tables with a variety of free information and refreshments.
Reservations for the event are appreciated but not required. They may be made by calling the Community Nurses at 781-1415 or via email at info@communitynurses.org.
Attendees will receive a packet of information that includes a booklet for preparing for end-of-life decisions, resource guides for different types of agencies that are available to help them with decisions, different options/churches available for funeral and burial services and information on veterans' benefits.
"People need to understand what options are available for end-of-life issues or that they talk to their family and friends about what their wishes are if something would happen so that there's a plan in place before a crisis occurs. That's the biggest message out there," said Karen Leithner, R.N., Community Nurses hospice manager. "We're trying to get people motivated to take at least one step to help make a decision towards their thoughts, their wishes, for them if they can't speak for themselves."
Leithner said that in her position she often witnesses how families struggle with such decisions when their loved ones are rushed to the hospital. Having a plan in place aids significantly in lessening the stress before a healthcare crisis occurs, she said.
Julie Heary, R.N., Community Nurses education coordinator, emphasized the need for people of all ages to consider their end-of-life options. She noted that while adults need to be aware of their parents' wishes, adult children in turn need to inform their parents of their wishes as well.
Decisions such as if a person wants to donate their organs, if they want to be buried or cremated, where they want to be buried, if they want a small or large funeral, should be among the topics addressed.

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