New Article Series! End of Life Options — Conversations with Judy

What is this article series you might wonder?

Judith (Judy) Schwarz is a PhD-prepared nurse, and has provided end of life counseling for 20 years for adults with living incurable/progressive or terminal illnesses. As the Clinical Director of End of Life Choices New York, she answers questions on a range of end of life topics. All of these questions are both interesting and important. These questions let her know the clinical concerns that are “top of mind” — issues that cannot be ignored and persist over time. Often, just having the opportunity to ask an experienced clinician and share their concerns helps focus the plan for “next steps.” Asking questions is important because people must have access to accurate and complete information so they can make thoughtful and informed decisions for themselves and/or for dependent family members who have lost the cognitive ability to decide for themselves.

This article series will cover some of the frequently asked questions Judy receives.

For example, many people are confused about [home] hospice care, and want to know what’s provided, what it costs, and how one arranges to receive that support. Others want to know what to specify in a written Living Will and how those documents differ from appointment directives like health care agents or powers of attorney for health care. Some callers want to know whether they have a ‘right’ to stop unwanted life-prolonging care and whether doing so would be considered suicide. (The answers to those questions are YES to the option of stopping ANY unwanted care — whether life-prolonging or not, and NO to concerns about whether doing so is suicide.)

Increasingly, Judy is asked to respond to questions about Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) (an area in which she is an expert) and completing a written advance directive to limit the provision of assisted feeding food and in the future event the person permanently loses decisional capacity due to dementia. Along with several colleagues, she co-edited a book that was recently published about these two topics by Oxford University Press entitled, Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking: A Compassionate, Widely Available Option for Hastening Death. The first printing sold out.

For those wishing to speak with Judy, please email judith@eolcny.org or call (212) 252-2015 and leave a message with the reason for the call and contact information including best time for a return phone call.

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