September 20, 2016

A short documentary worthy of your time

If you have Netflix, please invest 24 minutes viewing the just-released documentary Extremis. It is an intimate and educational look at end-of-life decision making through the eyes of the physician as well as the patient and loved ones. In 24 short minutes, the makers of this film manage to touch on the process of shared decision making, the crucial role of personal values in that process and the nearly overwhelming challenges that patients, physicians and proxies face every day.

This film should be mandatory for every professional involved in the health care system and for every patient and family member facing the possibility of medical decision making now or in the future.  Oh yeah, that's all of us.  

August 30, 2016


I bet you've either had rotator cuff surgery or know someone who has. Count me among them. Since my surgery in May of this year, I've learned quite a lot about surviving and making the most of the experience. You can access my new SURVIVOR'S GUIDE to ROTATOR CUFF SURGERY here on my site (see the new FREEBIES! tab).  If you're facing this common surgery, as a patient or caregiver, I hope it sheds some light on what's about to happen and aids your healing process.

August 24, 2016

Is the nursing shortage really news?

An AP article entitled "Hospital looks overseas for nurses" appeared in the Des Moines Register this week. To address the ongoing and increasing shortage of available nurses, It seems that UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's of Sioux City, Iowa is finding it necessary to recruit nurses from overseas. No big surprise there. Over one million nurses reach retirement age over the next 10-15 years, leaving vacant a projected 900,000 nursing jobs.

It begs the question:  Is this really news? Anyone who works in or has had occasion to use the health care system in the past few years already knows that we have a problem--a big problem. By 2030 here in Iowa, we will have 206,000 more folks age 65 and older than today--enough to populate our largest city, Des Moines.  And if you happen to be 65 or older, you know only too well that you're in the demographic cohort that does most of the being sick and dying.

Okay, we all get it. When do you suppose the light bulb will go on for our policymakers?

July 28, 2016

Special Health Care Advance Directive presentation!

SAVE THE DATE! of Wednesday, October 12, 2016, to attend a 90-minute special event at Iowa State's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in Ames, Iowa:  "The Health Care Advance Directive: A Blueprint for Medical Decision Making."

This is an event exclusively for Osher Institute members, but you can join up and get all kinds of other bennies for only $25 per year. The cost of the class on October 12 is $16 and every attendee will receive a copy of Jo's new and innovative Health Care Advance Directive form, valued at $15. Attend the August 11 Open House at the Iowa State Alumni Center to meet Jo and register in person or go to that day to register for this limited-size class.

Please join Jo for this unique opportunity to get Advance Care Planning off your to-do list!

June 16, 2016

Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer's Disease is the 6th leading cause of death for all age groups in America. A 40 percent increase in cases is projected between now and 2030 and, without a miracle treatment, numbers could double or triple by 2050.  And the issue of caregiving is a whole other crisis.  We are expecting a one percent increase in the number of potential caregivers, while the volume of those needing care will go up by 79 percent in the next 14 years.

Talk to your loved ones about your own views on medical care if you are ever diagnosed with a dementia-type condition and demand that your government leaders admit that there is an 800-pound elephant in the room.

May 19, 2016

Do doctors die differently than their patients?

I got the opportunity to answer that question for the Des Moines Register in an essay now online: "When doctors talk about dying" by Jo Kline Cebuhar (or in Saturday's print edition if you still like the feel of a real newspaper like I do.)

Will the end-of-life be different for our healers? Good question. Time will tell.

May 6, 2016

It's Older Americans Month!

President Kennedy first designated May as Senior Citizens Month. Along the way, someone noticed that folks who are 65 and older cringe at the term "senior citizen." Duh. In 1980, President Carter changed it to Older Americans Month.

And, may I say, it's about time we got the recognition we deserve (technically, I don't join the ranks until July, but with my head swimming in Medigap factoids, I am taking the liberty to include myself). Ten thousand more Americans become members of this demographic group every day, and will for the next 14 years. God bless the Baby Boom of 1946-1964.

To all who still fondly remember The Magic Window, hula hoops, sock hops, Fibber McGee's closet, Hoppalong Cassidy banks and teeny tiny transistor radios, I say SA-LUTE!

April 15, 2016

National Health Care Decisions Day!

Saturday, April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day.  Oh goodie, you're thinking, some well-meaning person set aside a whole day for me to think about stuff I have so far avoided thinking about at all. I totally understand. But if you'll give just one day to Advance Care Planning, you can then set it aside for the rest of your life, knowing you have a plan in place in case you are ever too ill to think or speak for yourself.

To read my guest editorial in the Des Moines Register, click here:  DMR Editorial of April 16, 2016.   (There is no print version of the paper today--press issues.  You cannot be serious???)

My new
Health Care Advance Directive makes this process about as painless as it can be, while checking off the Four Simple Steps to Advance Care Planning: Education, Delegation, Communication and--of course--Documentation!

Be the first in your family to get your substitute-medical-decision-making act together!

March 18, 2016

Houston, we have blast off!

Well, it's about time! The Multistate Health Care Advance Directive and the Iowa Health Care Advance Directive I have been toiling over for months are finally done!  See that picture of me on the right?  Just click on it to go to  There you can learn about these innovative advance directive forms and order the downloads (available in large-print formats as well).

Me?  I'm taking the rest of the day off . . .

March 14, 2016

Book Event on Saturday, April 2, 2016

If you would like to learn more about Advance Care Planning--the process of considering and communicating one's wishes for end-of-life care--please join me on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at Beaverdale Books (10:30 a.m.).  I will be doing a short presentation, followed by book sales and signings. I'm also pleased to announce that I will be premiering my Iowa and Multistate Health Care Advance Directive forms at that time.
If you know others who would like to learn more about Advance Care Planning, please post the announcement of my book event at your church, library or civic organization.  Just click here to download and print an 8.5x11 flyer (you can print it in color or B/W):  
Beaverdale Books Event Poster!

To see the announcement at 
 Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa

Hope to see you at Beaverdale Books--Des Moines's only independent book seller!