November 17, 2020
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November 17, 2020
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v2.1 Reference

Preparing for a Better End

Expert Lessons on Death and Dying for You and Your Loved Ones

A vital roadmap to planning your own end-of-life care.

While modern Americans strive to control nearly every aspect of their lives, many of us abandon control of life's final passage. But the realities of twenty-first-century medicine will allow most of us to have a say in how, when, and where we die, so we need to make decisions surrounding death, too. Or those decisions may be made for us. Threading compelling real-life stories and practical guidance throughout, this book helps readers navigate end-of-life care for themselves and their loved ones.

In this practical guidebook, Dr. Dan Morhaim and Shelley Morhaim offer readers hope, empowerment, and inspiration. What we choose for our end-of-life care, they assert, depends on accurate information and on our personal values. We need these not only to understand new medical advances but also to appreciate the wisdom of humanity's past and present.

Dan Morhaim, an emergency medicine physician and former Maryland state legislator, guides readers through the medical, legal, and financial maze of end-of-life care. He details the care choices available to patients and explains why living wills and advance directives are a necessity for every American. He tells readers where to find free and readily available living wills and advance directives and why it is so important for everyone—young and old—to complete them. Meanwhile, Shelley Morhaim draws on her experience as a therapeutic music practitioner for hospice and hospital patients to offer compassion to readers facing hard decisions.

The authors reflect on a number of timely topics, including

• what doctors—including Dr. Morhaim specifically—want for themselves in terms of end-of-life care
• how legislative initiatives on assisted dying vary by state
• how to obtain medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST/POLST)
• how to deal with dementia
• what to expect from palliative and hospice care
• how to cope with pain at the end of life, including with medical cannabis and narcotics
• how organ donation and body disposition work
• how to communicate individual needs to lawyers, physicians, and family members
• how to make decisions when selecting the best care for yourself and others

and more.

Organized as a roadmap that people should follow when they plan end-of-life care and contingencies, this book helps readers keep decisions in their own hands and spare their families the uncertainty and trauma of guessing about their end-of-life wishes. Breaking down the barriers to a difficult but essential topic, Preparing for a Better End helps readers open this often-avoided discussion with their loved ones while providing the information and guidance needed to ensure that deeply held values are reflected and honored.

Praise for the Author

"In The Better End, Dr. Morhaim helps the reader to see that while death does have its sting, it need not be bitter, and each of us can prepare for the end in better ways."—Maya Angelou

"Dan Morhaim's message is a must read for anyone who is facing end-of-life crisis issues and concerns, whether it be for themselves or for a family member or loved one. When so many others shun away from the topic, Dan Morhaim addresses the situation with clarity, insight, and sensitivity."—Montel Williams

About the Authors

Dan Morhaim, MD is an emergency medicine physician with more than 40 years of front-line clinical experience. He served for 24 years as a Maryland state legislator. Shelley Morhaim, the screenwriter and director of the documentary film The Next Industrial Revolution, is a therapeutic music practitioner for hospice and hospital patients.


"Dan Morhaim's knowledge as an ER doctor and his empathy for the dying—and the living—comes through in every chapter. He provides the questions we all should be asking and answering about death and dying."

- Ben Cardin, US Senator

"Compelling truths that enable families to choose dignity over depravity, love over loneliness, and fairness over bias. A must-read to prepare for a better end."

- Leon McDougle, MD, MPH, President, National Medical Association / Chief Diversity Officer, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

"Dan Morhaim provides key insights into ways to navigate the difficult end-of-life journey traveled by individuals and families across the country. This valuable guide offers thoughtful policy analysis while also highlighting essential considerations for you and your loved ones so that you can make decisions consistent with your values and wishes."

- Chris Van Hollen, US Senator

"Dan Morhaim's Preparing for a Better End is an important read. He brings experience and sensitivity to a challenging topic, one that we too often avoid, and he does so in a way that is accessible, practical, and sympathetic. This is a book for everyone who wants the best of medical care for themselves and their loved ones."

- Leana Wen, MD, Visiting Professor, George Washington University, coauthor of When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests

"I applaud the Morhaims' commitment to humanity as they encourage us to embrace the reality of our mortality. This book demonstrates that we have power to control our destiny, including the transition to death. We are best served by doing so, for ourselves and for those we inevitably leave behind."

- David O. Fakunle, Cofounder/CEO, DiscoverME/RecoverME: Enrichment Through the African Oral Tradition / Associate Faculty, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

"End-of-life care is increasingly complex, and deserves informed, clear decision making. This invaluable book gives practical, wise, and deeply compassionate support as we traverse the final days of our human journey."

- Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

"Preparing for a Better End is a timely exploration of the power of advance care planning. As a former state legislator and physician, Dr. Morhaim cogently argues for a more thoughtful and proactive approach to end-of-life planning. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor: fill out an advance directive now and read this book!"

- Edo Banach, JD, President/CEO, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

"Dr. Morhaim's excellent book provides practical advice for navigating the medical, emotional, social, and spiritual complexities of the serious illness journey. It does so in a way that promotes patient centered decision-making, especially at life's end, protecting patient and family alike. It's a clearly written and much-needed guide that all can use."

- Robert L. Fine, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, Clinical Director, Baylor Scott & White Health, Office of Clinical Ethics and Palliative Care

"Dr. Morhaim's Preparing for a Better End is both approachable and comprehensive for providers and patients alike. This roadmap for end-of-life care and decision-making explores many different scenarios while helping to demystify this deeply personal experience that each of us must navigate."

- Robert Barish, MD, MBA, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago / Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine

"Bringing the individual and the family into health care decision making has to be one of its core values This book keeps that as its focus, while providing sound, practical advice about navigating the healthcare system when things get tough. In that way, Dr. Morhaim helps patients, families, providers, and society. I recommend this book highly."

- Angelo Volandes, MD, Cofounder/President, Advance Care Planning Decisions / Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, author of The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care

"While we prepare for several milestones in life such as marriage, children or even retirement, too often we as a society overlook the importance of advance care planning. Dan Morhaim's Preparing for a Better End provides the framework, expectations, and guidance needed to navigate this intimidating process and helps to break it down in a digestible manner that gives everyone the confidence needed to plan for the best end-of-life experience possible."

- Elizabeth Clayborne, MD, MA Bioethics, emergency medicine physician, University of Maryland Department of Emergency Medicine

"Preparing for a Better End is a powerful, persuasive, very readable book on the importance of considering and planning for our eventual deaths. I am looking forward to using this exceptionally compassionate, honest, and forthright book in my ongoing practice and sharing it with the entire palliative team."

- Evangeline Calland, hospital chaplain, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

"Sometimes the simplest innovations are the hardest. In this case, it's completing advance directives. Dr. Morhaim makes a compelling case why this is something we should all do, and he shares how our digital age makes it easy and accessible."

- Molly Coye, MD, MPH, Executive-in-Residence, AVIA Health

"Preparing for a Better End unfolds like a leisurely walk with a mentor. You find yourself understanding things that others have tried to tell you for years. Morhaim uses an array of stories from a lifetime of diverse experience to teach, not preach. Advance care planning is not new, but this is a fresh guide for why and how to use it."

- Nathan Kottkamp, Founder/Chair, National Healthcare Decisions Day

"Death, like birth, is a multi-dimensional experience that deserves intelligent action and choices to support the potential for experiencing deep meaning and love. Dan and Shelley Morhaim are the perfect guides to this irreplaceable time of the life journey. Our culture has long needed an evolutionary book like this and it is finally here!"

- Jessica Dibb, Inspiration Consciousness School / Convergence Center for Policy Resolution

"Prevention and planning are the best ways to manage complex health care issues. This book gives the reader both the reasons and methods to do so, the 'why' and the 'how to,' especially when facing serious illness. It's about empowerment and respect for individual values, something we can all use in difficult situations."

- Clarence Lam, MD, MPH, Director, Preventive Medicine Residency Program / assistant scientist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

"Preparing for a Better End is an excellent resource for anyone working through the process of making decisions about end-of-life care. It is suitable for a broad range of people, including people who have different convictions about certain end-of-life questions. I heartily recommend Dr. Morhaim's work to other clergy and religious leaders."

- Rev. Jason A. Poling, DMin, Episcopal priest/Director, Doctor of Ministry Program, St. Mary's Seminary & University
Johns Hopkins University Press
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