1. Mueller, Karen PhD, PT

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A utopian notion I have is of people being born into the welcoming arms of community and dying from the reluctant arms of community. While I live and practice in the real world, my hospice experience [horizontal ellipsis] makes me believe that through professional commitment [horizontal ellipsis] we can realize that dream.


Ira Byock MD, Author of Dying Well


When Carole Lewis contacted me well over 2 years ago with the invitation to serve as the editor for a special issue of Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation devoted entirely to end-of-life care, I was both honored and intimidated. Having been a hospice therapist and educator for more than 20 years, I had long appreciated the strong interdisciplinary approach to this emerging area of care. Most of us who work in end-of-life care will tell you that there is an inseparable interweaving of both the "art of caring and the science of healing" and that working with persons at their end of life may involve transformative experiences for which there is no scientifi c evidence, but rather a heartfelt sense of awe and gratitude to the patients and families we are called to serve. For more often than not, in the process of facilitating a death process that is peaceful, comfortable, and meaningful, we come to fully understand what it means to love, to be compassionate and caring, and most of all, to live each day in full mindful presence. As geriatric rehabilitation professionals, we are poised to assist the transitions of an unprecedented number of those from the Veteran and Baby Boomer generations, many of whom have built enduring legacies in every aspect of society, and all of whom deserve to die in the arms of a loving community of family, friends, and health care professionals. Thus, as the need for our services continues to emerge, a thorough understanding of the role of each discipline is essential. Even more importantly, we must be ready to integrate a compassionate approach to end-of-life care in our own clinical practices. In the spirit of promoting that understanding, I wanted to ensure that this issue would refl ect the voices of leading clinicians, teachers, authors, and researchers, each of whom has worked to make Dr Byock's dream an imminent reality.


-Karen Mueller, PhD, PT


Professor, Program in Physical Therapy


Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona