Blog

Author: Rie BroscoEnd of Life Planning Family

You’re Not Dead Yet

Thinking about and recording emergency medical care choices is not about death. It is all about how you wish to be treated while you are alive.

Tips for setting up Advanced Care InstructionsSomeday, you may be brought to a hospital in critical condition. You may be confused or unable to answer questions that are asked of you. You are not dead and, in actuality (and hopefully), you might not die.

If you are sedated and admitted to the hospital, how will the staff know who to contact and what you like or want?

When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I cared for a young man who was in a coma. The nursing staff realized that he became agitated when the room was quiet. His family brought in music from several of his favorite recording artists. When the music was played, he rested peacefully. How did his family know what to do? He told them in advance.

My point is that hospital or medical care is not just about physical care. It should and does include emotional and spiritual care as well as basic life preferences.

This can even help when the situation is not as critical. For instance, my wife, Naomi, hates to sleep with the blankets tucked tightly around her feet. If something should happen to her, I want to make sure that she is as comfortable as possible. Because I know her wishes, I will be able to relay this to the nursing staff.

While writing an Advance Directive is detailed and usually focuses mainly on end-of-life or death decisions, the following questions may help others care for you when you are critically ill.

What other kinds of non-medical information should the medical staff know about you?

Can you answer the following questions?

  • If I am admitted to the hospital or I am facing a long recuperation, either at home or in a rehabilitation facility, who would I want to be notified and wish to come visit?
  • Is it okay to post information about my illness or injury on social media?
  • Am I more afraid of being in pain or being drugged to the point of not being able to visit with people?
  • Are there any particular foods that would make me happy (assuming that I have the approval of the doctor)?
  • Do I prefer quiet in my room or do I want music? If music, what kind?
  • If I am unable to read, would I like audiobooks or someone to read to me?
  • If I am in a coma or drugged, do I want someone just to sit with me?
  • Do I want my rabbi, priest or other spiritual leader to visit me?
  • Do I want the person who makes decisions to be the Emergency Room doctor or would I rather have someone who knows me and knows what I want to make those decisions?
  • If I have identified a person to speak on my behalf (medical power of attorney or agent), does he or she know what I want to happen if current treatment is not working?

Remember, you may be healthy and active now, but don’t put off making some of these decisions today. Think of it like a health insurance policy. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but if you do, it is great to know it is available! Knowing what you want to happen is only the first step in the process. Writing your wishes down is the second. Telling someone whom you trust is essential.

Author: Rie BroscoEnd of Life Planning

Making New Years resolutions that we can stick with!

A new year is upon us. It is time to start fresh, make New Year’s resolutions that we will stick with!

Many of us focus on making resolutions that will benefit us individually, improve our lives (stick to my diet, exercise more, declutter the house). This year, I suggest that you do something different; something that is not only for yourself but will be appreciated and remembered by others. This year, I urge you to plan for the future by thinking about and documenting your end-of-life wishes and estate plan.

There is an old Chinese proverb that states “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

Estate Planning

None of us know what the future will bring. Now, I wish all who are reading this a long, healthy and active life but as my mother used to say, “You never know if you will be hit by a bus.” Now is the time to plan and put into place systems that will serve you for the rest of your life.

To get you started, here is a checklist of documents you should have that will be important to others if you are unable to speak for yourself because of a medical crisis or death. How many of the items below can you check off?

Will

  • I have a will
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a will? I’m not rich or have a lot of money; besides, I am still young.

Medical Power of Attorney

  • I have a Medical Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • What is a Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

Financial Power of Attorney

  • I have a Financial Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney? I don’t have much money. Who needs this, anyway?

Advance Directive (also known as a Living Will or Health Care Directive)

  • I have a Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive or Health Care Directive).
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why is a Living Will important? Just do everything to keep me alive; oh, except for these three things. Don’t do them.).

Final Wishes

  • I know what I want to have done when I die (i.e. burial, cremation, organ donation)
  • I know what I want my funeral to look like.
  • I know what I want done with all my stuff (including private letters, diaries and journals).
  • This information is written down in one or more lists.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where the lists are.
  • Why can’t I just tell someone what I want and let them deal with it?

Computer and Cell Phone Access

  • My passwords are written down and located in a secure place or I use an on-line, secure password program.
  • Someone knows where this list is located.
  • This list has been updated within the past year.
  • Why would you need my user names and passwords?

Contacts

  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted if I am hospitalized for an extended period but am too sick to make the calls or emails.
  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted in the event of my death.
  • This may be different from the other lists.
  • These lists have been updated within the last 5 years.
  • Someone knows where these lists are located.
  • Can’t someone just post the information on Facebook? That’s where I get most of my information anyway. Oops, they need my user name and password to get into my account. Okay, someone can write an obituary and put it in the newspaper.

I challenge you to make this year’s resolutions ones that will benefit others as well as yourself. Remember, making these decisions in advance and communicating them to the appropriate people is a gift of love that is given to those who will have to make the decisions if /when you can’t. It is a kindness that will never be forgotten.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and organized New Year!