Perparing for the Future

Maisha Robinson, M.D., M.S., is the featured speaker for Ocala-based IHMC’s Evening  Lecture Series on February 19.

As a neurologist at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Maisha Robinson, M.D., M.S., regularly deals with a topic most people would rather avoid: advance directive documents.

It’s a subject many of us aren’t comfortable talking about, but as Dr. Robinson points out, “The greatest gift you can give your family members and friends is direction regarding the type of care you would want at the end of your life.”

Since earning her medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Robinson has routinely seen patients with advanced, serious medical conditions, including end stage heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s, kidney disease and cancer. In addition to medical treatment to improve their quality of life to the greatest extent possible, she encourages those patients to set priorities and goals.

“For one person the most important thing might be to take a trip before they die, or it might be spending time with family. The idea of advance planning is for people to identify their wishes and make sure this conversation is had between them, their physicians and family members,” she notes. “Then, whatever their goals or priorities, we try to help meet those and align those wishes with available treatment options.”

Dr. Robinson seeks to advance the integration of neurology and palliative medicine and finds that many people don’t understand that palliative care is not hospice care.

“Palliative care offers support to people as they’re going through treatments, whatever those may be, and helps them live as well as they can until the end of life,” she explains.

An important aspect of palliative care is to improve end-of-life care planning. Because health care providers are focused on treatment and healing, many don’t bring up the subject of advance directives, yet it’s important to address such actions before they’re actually needed by the patient or must be executed by family members.

“We are beginning to learn that preparing people for end of life is an important part of the process,” says Dr. Robinson. “At some point we’re all going to be there. Having advance directives in place alleviates a lot of guilt from family members trying to make decisions when they don’t know what their loved ones would want.”

In her lecture at IHMC, Dr. Robinson will be talking about ways to get that conversation started, what should be included and why it’s important to have—sooner rather than later. She’ll use real life case studies that explain the benefits of having advance directives planning in place, as well as the challenges of not having done so.

Her refreshingly relatable presentation makes a tough topic much easier to approach and will get families talking about a crucial subject.

Learn More: IHMC Evening Lecture Series › Maisha Robinson, M.D., M.S. › Tuesday, February 19, 6-7pm, doors open at 5:30 › ihmc.us › (352) 387-3050

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