A nurse checks an elderly patient's blood pressure.
A nurse checks an elderly patient's blood pressure.
Making medical and ethical healthcare decisions with understanding and skill is the topic of a free conference set for 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland.

Mary Richardson will speak on Medicare and give an overview about turning 65 and getting Medicare information.

Dr. Michael Andrews’ presentation is titled: “Empathy, Faith, and Caring-for-Others: Learning to Integrate Loss and Spirituality in Making Complex Healthcare Decisions." He asks if an ethics of empathy can impact and inform complex health care decisions.  

Gretchen Brauer-Rieke, a nurse, will offer instruction and support for initiating and sustaining challenging conversations with family, loved ones, and health care providers, especially in establishing “goals of care” and discussing quality of life as opposed to quantity of life. Jesuit Father Craig Boly will reflect on what can be expected from a psychologist, a pastoral counselor, or a spiritual director when making any important decision.

A joint project of 10 Southeast Portland parishes, the conference is the third in a cycle of gatherings on decisions at the end of life. The 2010 and 2011 conferences explored medical treatment, advance directives and the Catholic option for palliative care.   

The 2011 conference drew 140 people, mostly seniors and older adult children.
"The goal of the Life Decisions Conference is to assist us to have the conversation with our loved ones so we feel secure that the decisions we want made about ourselves and our care choices are known," says Tina Auerbach, a steering committee member.