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A TED Talk on Preparing for the Inevitable
Posted By Patrick Kiger On May 22, 2013 @ 2:48 pm In Bulletin Today | Comments Disabled
When the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference began in 1984, the Los Angeles Times called it “an obscure gathering of engineers, theorists and artists.” But in the nearly three decades since then, TED has morphed into a series of mind-expanding showcases staged in several countries that attract scores of celebrity visionaries, ranging from physicist Steven Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks to former President Bill Clinton and rock stars Bono and Peter Gabriel. Better yet, the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, which stages the conferences, now makes hundreds of TED talks available on its website. (If you’re not sure which ones to pick, you can even listen to playlists of TED talks selected by luminaries in various fields.)
A surprising number of the TED talks turn out to be related to aging, such as Stanford Center for Longevity director Laura Carstensen’s 2011 talk, “Older People are Happier,” and Jane Fonda’s talk from that same year on “Life’s Third Act.” But a just-posted TED talk gets into another age-related subject, one that many of us probably try to avoid thinking about.
“Prepare for a Good End of Life” is a February 2013 presentation by Judy MacDonald Johnston, a publisher of learn-to-read materials for children who also has started a side project, Goodendoflife.com. The latter is a set of online worksheets and advice aimed at helping older people to make difficult decisions – who should speak for you if you cannot speak, and whether you should fill out a do-not-resuscitate form – before that inevitable day arrives when such instructions may be needed.
Johnston, as she makes clear at the beginning of her talk, isn’t a geriatrician, and her knowledge about end-of-life preparations is based on the experience of two close friends, Sonoma County, Calif., livestock ranchers and wildlife preservationists Jim and Shirley Modini, for whom she served a trustee and advocate when they reached their 80s and found themselves in ill health. “I became the person who managed their end-of-life experiences,” she explains. “And we learned a few things about how to have a good end.”
Johnston suggests these five important steps for anyone preparing for the end of life:
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