Critical Conversations

By Diana DeLuca ’23, July 7, 2023
Podcast shines a light on the importance of having end-of-life discussions.

End-of-life discussions are some of the most difficult, yet necessary, conversations we can have with our loved ones. Ithaca College’s Elizabeth Bergman and Lisa Richards are trying to raise awareness of the importance of those discussions through their podcast, “We Really Need to Talk.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bergman, an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, and Richards, the college’s Longview Coordinator and a Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center Program Coordinator, hosted numerous online outreach events and programs where the topic was discussed.

“Because we were already frequently delivering this information online, we thought that we could reach more people through a podcast,” Richards said.

“We Really Need to Talk” has five episodes, each centering on a specific aspect of end-of-life conversations. The episodes often include professionals in various fields and cover both practical topics such as the importance of having a health car proxy and more emotional ones about the power and possibilities opened up by facing end-of-life issues directly.

Listening Session

All five episodes of the “We Need to Talk” podcast can be listened to here. Each episode also has a transcript, which can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF.

“Typically, these conversations occur when people are under an extreme amount of stress, sometimes in crisis situations, and those are less than ideal circumstances under which to make really big decisions,” Bergman said. “We’ve seen that happen too many times, and it just made us want to do something.”

Both Bergman and Richards have shared and promoted their podcast in classes at IC and with colleagues at other colleges and universities.

The pair supported their podcast with funds from a grant from the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center. The grant came from the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement program, administered by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. It is designed to fund organizations that provide training and education to individuals working with the elderly and their families.

Additional funding came from a five-year funding cycle through a subcontract with the University of Rochester Medical Center to provide geriatric workforce training and education in rural upstate New York.

Students in the college’s Center for Creative Technology helped Bergman and Richards when it came to recording and editing their podcast. Richards said the center and the students were an invaluable resource.

“We didn’t fully understand or appreciate this resource until Lisa went to a training,” Bergman recalled. “It was really the fact that there was support that existed at the college level that led us to say, ‘Let’s give this a shot’.”