It’s not a popular subject, but you know, we’re getting to the stage of life where we ought to give end-of-life care more than a passing thought. And if not for ourselves, then for our aging parents or siblings.
An article in MedPage Today suggests that as advanced as we are with acute and even chronic care, we as a nation don’t do a very good job with end-of-life care. We don’t ask older patients what is important to them. Doctors, trained with w “fix-it” mentality, don’t consider the benefit of diagnostic tests or treatment for something that isn’t lethal. We as consumers – and as advocates – need to think about end-of-life care for ourselves and talk to our loved ones as well.
Obviously, everyone needs an advanced directive and a health care power of attorney. Your physician can provide you with those forms. And think about those in your circle of influence who have no one. We have a friend on disability who has no family. The last time he was in the hospital, no one knew to call us. We learned about it through a church prayer request. We’re visiting his doctor next week to set me up as his DPA (durable power of attorney) for health care and get his advanced directive in order.
But beyond the legal is the emotional and spiritual. What are your goals and dreams? How do you want to die if you have the choice? I have a friend with Alzheimers who absolutely does not want to go into a facility, while another friend with the same disease who told his wife that when he no longer knew her, she should put him in a facility. We can’t always comply with these wishes, but knowing them at least helps in making decisions. What are the spiritual practices that are important to you? What are your greatest fears concerning end-of-life care? These are the conversations to have now, while they are relatively unemotional. Then you’ll be better prepared when the time comes.