Professionals from a variety of disciplines will attend the "End of Life Conference," to be held on March 17 and 18 at the Newton Marriott Hotel, organized and hosted by the Boston College Initiatives on Aging program.
In addition to work sessions and panel discussions at the hotel, the conference will include a featured address by Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, author of the highly-acclaimed book As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning, and a widely recognized expert on the complex issues surrounding death.
Fr. Neuhaus' lecture, "The Blessing of Mortality," which is free and open to the public, will be held on Monday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Higgins Hall 300.
"We now have the technology to enable people to live longer," said Rachel Pruchno, director of the Initiatives on Aging program and co-chair of the conference. "This raises a host of questions that previous generations never faced. The goal of this conference is to bring professionals from a host of disciplines together in order to begin a truly multidisciplinary dialog about end of life issues.
"As our society continues to age, these issues will affect the lives of thousands of patients, family members and professionals."
Questions to be discussed at this year's conference include: "End of life care: Does age matter?"; "What are the legal aspects of end of life decision making?"; "How can clinicians with diverse backgrounds and training collaborate to care for patients at the end of life?"; "How should the needs of patients and family members be accommodated at the end of life?" and "What roles do religiosity and spirituality play at the end of life?"
Conference presenters will outline state-of-the-art knowledge about each issue, identify gaps and suggest avenues for future research. Boston College faculty speakers will include Luce Professor of Nursing Ethics Sara Fry, Walsh Professor of Bioethics John Paris, SJ, and Prof. Ray Madoff (Law).
Fr. Neuhaus, director of the Institute of Religion and Public Life and the editor-in-chief of First Things: A Journal of Religion and Public Life, is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the role of religion in the contemporary world. As I Lay Dying details his own near-death experiences and eventual recovery from a ruptured tumor, as well as his efforts to understand his own reactions - and those of his friends and family - to mortality.
The conference is funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Boston College Jesuit Institute.
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