Late in life health decisions studied by Allina

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.- It's a question we all must answer -- How can I live well as I get older?

However, when it comes to late-in-life health decisions... sometimes the answer isn't what we'd like. So that has prompted the creation of LifeCourse, an innovative trial of holistic, late-life care.

Dr. Eric Anderson, Allina Health, LifeCourse principal investigator, joined KARE 11 News @4 to talk about their new study, LifeCourse.

The following explains what Allina is studying:

What is LifeCourse?

LifeCourse is a multi-year study by Allina Health to test an innovative model for caring for people with serious illnesses during the last few years of life.

Why is Allina Health studying late life care?

We all say we want to live longer. We should be careful what we wish for, because we have it. We are not dying from diseases that took lives in the 60, 70s and even the 80s. Most now have a long trajectory to that end. But that doesn't mean we're going at 100 percent up until the end. What it typically means is a long, slow decline.

As we decline, we're spending more time with our health care professionals than our family and friends. We're probably taking 18 different pills a day by 4 different doctors. Who's coordinating that? What are the side effects? How are they interacting? And, do you really need all those pills at this stage of life?

Is this the same as hospice?

This is earlier than hospice – two or three years before someone would likely go into hospice. We think people's lives could be vastly improved. LifeCourse addresses whether we are living the best life we can through our declining years. More importantly, how do we, overwhelmed by the huge, sprawling medical community, figure out what we want and how to get it?

So, for people who aren't in the study, why do you want them to know about it?

We want people to understand these issues and be advocates for better care. That's why Allina Health partnered with Twin Cities Public Television to create a documentary series about the work of LifeCourse. In our documentary, we follow patients to see what their lives are like. To see if the Allina Health LifeCourse project can help patients and their families live the best life they can through this final stage of life.

For more information

"Late Life"" premieres tonight at 9 o'clock on Twin Cities Public TV. It's the first of a six-part documentary series that will run through the rest of the year.


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