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The emotional impact of end-of-life care on those who receive and those who give




Neurologist Farrah Daly (L) speaks with 74-year-old patient Alton Hlavin (R), who is suffering from cortical basal degeneration, similar to Parkinson's disease, which gradually attacks nerve cells, causing debilitating muscle pain and shrinking parts of the brain until the patient can no longer walk or talk, as his wife Martha (C) looks on during a visit at their home in Vienna, Virginia, on December 10, 2010.
Neurologist Farrah Daly (L) speaks with 74-year-old patient Alton Hlavin (R), who is suffering from cortical basal degeneration, similar to Parkinson's disease, which gradually attacks nerve cells, causing debilitating muscle pain and shrinking parts of the brain until the patient can no longer walk or talk, as his wife Martha (C) looks on during a visit at their home in Vienna, Virginia, on December 10, 2010.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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You’d be hard pressed to find someone who truly wants to die lying in a hospital bed in an ICU hooked up to a bunch of machines. Most who reach the stage of their life where they require round-the-clock care would rather die peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, in the comfort of their homes. For those who choose to receive home hospice care instead of being hospitalized, it is a struggle with the complete loss of independence and being able to allow someone else to care for you completely. For the caregiver, it is a struggle with watching a fellow human, who may be a friend or family member, wither away, and also taking care of that person while not completely depriving him or her of a sense of independence.

L.A. Times staff photographer Francine Orr wanted to document the emotional impact of caregiving on families. She had been a caregiver for her father, Frank, for three decades while he suffered from chronic illnesses. Through her work, she met a woman named Evelyn Corsini, who had been paralyzed on her left side from a stroke and removal of a brain tumor. In a recent article published in the L.A. Times, Orr shares the lessons she learned as a caregiver to her father and from Evelyn Corsini’s caregivers.

View slideshow: Caregivers

Have you ever had to care for a friend or family member receiving home hospice care? What impact did it have on you? How did you cope with some of the more emotionally-draining aspects of home hospice care?

For more information and help on this topic, you may use this free resources: the Alzheimer's Association Helpline 1-800-272-3900

Guests:

Francine Orr, staff photographer at the L.A. Times; she wrote the recent piece, “Nearing death, two people offer a journalist and caregiver life lessons”

Patty Watson-Wood, BSN, RN, Supervisor of Community Nursing at the Huntington Hospital Senior Care Network