260580 Preventing and relieving suffering among seriously ill older adults: Reframing the dialogue to expand consciousness of relational meanings and contexts

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 5:30 PM - 5:50 PM

Mary E. Morrissey, PhD, MPH, JD , Hartford Risk and Resilience Project, Fordham Graduate School of Social Service, West Harrison, NY
The problem of suffering among a growing number of at-risk older adults with serious and chronic illness is recognized as a major public health problem in the US and across the world. Little or no access to appropriate health and mental health services for vulnerable,underrepresented older adult subgroups heightens their suffering, especially in resource-poor environments. Even when seriously ill older adults do have access to health care, assessment,prevention and treatment interventions may often be inadequate to meet their needs. Many health professionals lack training in multidimensional assessment of suffering and palliative care approaches to reduce illness burden. In this paper, the researcher will describe lived experiences of suffering among seriously ill older adults from their perspectives, and will discuss how such experiences are related to older adults' social ecological and cultural contexts. The researcher will examine in depth the temporal, genetic, and social developmental aspects of suffering, giving particular attention to explaining intersubjectivity in the life-worlds of older adults living through serious illness using phenomenological methods. The researcher will explain how phenomenological methods and frameworks of the lived body, lived space and lived time give greater access to older adults' suffering in an intersubjectively experienced world, and deepen our understanding of the ways in which suffering experiences are shared. The presentation will conclude with a reframing of the dialogue about suffering to expand consciousness of relational meanings and appropriate palliative responses to prevent and relieve suffering among the most vulnerable older adults needing care and social support during serious illness.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the multidimensional lived experiences of suffering among vulnerable, seriously ill older adults including nursing home residents, aging prisoners, and members of minority and underrepresented subgroups including the homeless population. 2. Discuss the temporal, genetic and developmental meanings of suffering from the perspective of seriously ill older adults themselves.

Keywords: Humanism, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a health care and social work researcher with earned degrees in gerontological social work (PhD), public health (MPH, and law (JD). I have conducted studies of suffering among older adults and reported on such studies at many professional and research conferences. I also provide interdisciplinary training to health professionals and health providers using curricula which I have developed and which have been evaluated. My work bridges policy, practice and research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.