Institute on Aging has been looking forward to partnering with Dr. Jessica Zitter to bring into the community her stirring insights and ideas about saving lives and dealing with death. Since we began communicating about the possibilities with her over a year ago, Dr. Zitter’s nationwide influence has greatly amplified as she’s become the trusted voice for the end-of-life-care movement.
Her documentary, Extremis, was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award and is now widely available for streaming through Netflix. It gives an intimate, heart-wrenching look into a real-life ICU and the emotional battles of family members not yet ready to let go. On May 15th, Dr. Zitter will lift the veil from the process of making end-of-life decisions and invite us all to pave the way for brave compassion in every facet of palliative care.
Dr. Zitter breaks ground by speaking honestly about the most basic and complicated journeys we all face: life and death. Modern medicine has boldly accepted the challenge of prolonging the first and delaying the second, but we are often unprepared to face the unfamiliar challenges of older age and the inevitable call to let our loved ones pass on with dignity. The comfortable route would be to avoid talking about it, but Dr. Zitter has spent more than 20 years as a critical and palliative care specialist, and she insists that we cannot turn our backs on the incredible suffering some older adults experience as they near the end of life. There has to be a better way.
Together, we’ll explore the possibilities of “Finding a Better Path to the End of Life”—Zitter’s provoking subtitle to her new book Extreme Measures. In it, she reveals how she started out in medicine with the hope of saving lives from death, but after decades of caring for the patients in that equation, she views the technological practice of delaying death as a public health crisis. Prolonging life is prolonging unnecessary suffering. She urges physicians, caregivers, older adults, families, medical professionals—indeed, all of us—to learn how to honor death and to reimagine end-of-life care with the patient at the heart of all decision making.
We at Institute on Aging are overwhelmingly honored to collaborate with Dr. Zitter in our heart-centered quest to standardize palliative medicine as a warm and humanistic model of care. IOA is committed, every day, to supporting aging adults, caregivers, and families in navigating graceful living and dying.
Join us on Monday, May 15, for this groundbreaking discussion. It will begin at 7 pm at Institute on Aging’s San Francisco campus. Tickets are $15 for general admission or $5 for students and seniors (65 and older). Please, reserve your tickets in advance at Eventbrite now. Be a moving part of this life- and death-changing discussion that is only just beginning.
Funding for this program is provided by the Julian S. Davis, MD, Lectureship Fund.