There has been a large amount of publicity on palliative care and end-of-life issues recently. The September issue of AARP and the September 18th issue of Time Magazine have had important articles on the timely challenges the boomers face around these problems.

In light of the Bill Moyer’s, “On Our Own Terms” documentary which has appeared nationally on PBS television this past week, it is important for caregivers to know how to address these issues with your loved one when their time is near.

Our nation as a whole has not been able to talk outright about the problems that arise surrounding dying and death. Our culture has not addressed the issues openly. As family caregivers, many are at a loss as to how to speak out and do something about them to make their experience easier.

What astounds me the most is the difficulty caregivers and their loved ones have in dealing with the problems at hand. Many are into denial. Many choose not to speak of these unspoken necessities. The ratings for the Bill Moyer’s program were actually down. My mom shared with me that there was a discussion group at her senior center. The leader wanted to address the issues covered in the program. The majority of the participants elected not to talk about it. Even my mother, who is very spiritually aware, had difficulty in watching the program. As a former caregiver and working in this field, I knew most of what was discussed. And yet, I too, had difficulty remaining focused during the entire four nights of viewing. There was so much information; I found myself video recording the series to watch at my own pace. The heaviness and depression that surround these issues holds true for the majority of us.

Most people appear to let our government and medical institutions guide us in these situations. People are living much longer due to modern medical technology and medicines. In many cases, life may be prolonged but the quality of life of an individual has been reduced drastically. When you get down to the crux of it all, the responsibility is in each individual to make informed decisions and choices as to how to handle them for themselves in their own unique situation. It is equally the responsibility of their loved one to make decisions and work with their caregivers if they are capable of doing so.

I believe that it is important for everyone to take time to sit quietly and reflect on what it is that is going on inside themselves in relationship to these topics. No one can escape these issues. They are a part of the circle of life. By taking the time to recognize your attitudes and beliefs, you may decide to seek professional help to get past the barriers that keep you from creating a less painful, more humane and loving experience for your loved one. If you find yourself still doubting, imagine what you would like your end-of-life experience to be like.

Richest blessings,



  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.