The most precious gift you can give your elderly loved ones!
No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking of. The most precious gift you can give to your loved ones is to help them understand your end-of-life care wishes.
It’s not a favorite discussion topic for any of us, but so much better to have the conversations and write things down now than it is to leave loved ones to anguish about tough decisions in a crisis. The decisions still may be difficult, but they will be so much easier if you give your family direction as to how you want to be cared for in life-threatening situations.
Consider the contrasts in opinions and behaviors to see that you’re not alone
- 60% say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important”
- 56% have not communicated their end of life wishes
- 70% say they prefer to die at home
- 70% die in a hospital, nursing home or long term care facility
- 80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care
- 7% report having had an end-of-life discussion with their doctor
- 82% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing
- 23% have actually done it
One of the ways to make this easier is to start thinking about and then talking about a direct question: What matters to me? This discussion with a loved one provides insight that will be useful when faced with difficult, specific questions about your care at future time. Plus, it’s an easy way to start the conversation. Please see the resource below from The Conversation Project for many more ideas.
There are five important questions to be answered
- The person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t
- The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want
- How comfortable I want to be
- How I want people to treat me
- What I want my loved ones to know.
The results of these conversations need to be documented. There are two general forms that can be used. Both are available from the State of South Carolina and could be completed by you and your loved ones. Or, you can secure the advice and direction of an attorney who has experience in elder and health planning issues.
- Living Will: A Living Will provides specific directions to health care providers about what you want or don’t want done regarding life-sustaining treatments. This includes resuscitation, tube feeding, breathing support and others.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: This allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions regarding your health care when you are not able to make decisions, including life-sustaining treatment.. It may include some specific directions to the person to whom you give this authority. It relieves them of some of the burden of making difficult decisions.
You need to have one or both of these documents done, regardless of your age. It is a gift to your loved ones. Have the conversation(s), write down your directions, sign and have the forms notarized as directed and let your family know of their location. Your health care providers should know about them as well.
Interim HealthCare provides services to many who are in end-of-life situations. This obviously includes Interim HealthCare Hospice, but also includes home health and personal care services. All our staff have access to these materials and we are available to make presentations to groups about the importance of making your wishes known. Most importantly, we stand ready to help you and your loved ones achieve your goals.