According to The Washington Post, 8 in 10 people of all ages think it is important to talk to their doctor about their end-of-life wishes, but fewer than 1 in 10 report having had these discussions. After having to sit bedside for two parents in the past three years during their end-of-life, this makes me both angry and sad.
I was blessed that I knew my parents as an adult and we often discussed all kinds of things, including views on incapacity and death. Both were in hospice care, and we had time to say our good-byes.
However, there are many aspects of this issue that only a loved one may understand. I recommend you take some time to read the article When a doctor and a patient disagree about care at the end of life (The Washington Post, April 19, 2016). The article lured me in because my mother’s doctor said we had to lift the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order before she would consider mending my mother’s broken hip. I was speechless and overloaded by the idea that to abate my mother’s pain, she might return with broken ribs and move into a deeper realm of dementia after surgery. What kind of choice is that?
I called in some help from an Aging Life Care Professional and was advised to request a Geriatric consult. The doctor spent time with me to understand my mom’s mental status and health care wishes. In the end, her health was deteriorating and she would never qualify for surgery.
End of life choices aren’t for sissies. The earlier you start talking about the real choices your friends, colleagues, and loved ones are having to make, the easier it will be for you to be clear about your choices with those that will step in to speak for you should you need it. Recommended.
A good option to help start thinking about this topic and choices that might have to be made is The Conversation Project. Get your free kit here. It’s much easier to do this when you are healthy and no medical concerns are looming.