When my father was dying I was surprised to find that there was a deep disagreement within my family about what type of care would be best for him. I recognized these divisions as ones that would emerge at stressful times, and they represented long-standing familiar dynamics in our family. Looking back I could have predicted these disagreements and proactively prepared for them. If our family had been able to talk about my father’s end of life care ahead of time, I believe we could have avoided some miscommunication and hurt feelings.
Planning End of Life Care – Everyone Benefits
This experience made it clear to me that planning end of life care is not only for one’s own benefit but also for the benefit of one’s family and close friends. This has also been validated by my 30+ years experience of working with mid-life and aging issues. I have observed and learned that it is a kindness to everyone to have our end of life wishes decided upon, documented, and communicated.
In Colorado proactively preparing for end of life care includes:
- Naming a health care agent
- Clarifying the many details of the type of care we want to receive
Our health care agent will potentially be our most important spokesperson and will speak for us when we are unable to do so for ourselves. This individual will be our advocate with health care professionals and family members, some of whom may have differing opinions about what might be best for us. We name our health care agent in the Medical Durable Power Of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions.
We clarify the care we want to receive in the Advance Directive For Medical/Surgical Treatment. This document addresses issues such as:
- Life-Sustaining Procedures
- Artificial Nutrition and Hydration
- Care If In A Permanent Vegetative State
- Anatomical Gifts
When I work with people who are facing an urgent medical situation my priority is to help assist them with the basic choices discussed above. When people are interested and able to examine end of life issues before they are urgent, our conversations then explore the many possibilities which can help make the experience of our planning for end of life more uplifted and comfortable.
Planning End of Life Care – Questions to Reflect Upon
- Who would be your voice if you were unable to speak for yourself?
- If you were writing the script, would you choose to die at your own home with hospice, or in a nursing home?
- Often a great deal of money can be spent on end of life care. How would you choose to spend your financial resources?
Ask yourself what questions you might have about your own or a family member’s end of life care. Please consider that now may be the best time to thoughtfully plan and make clear decisions for your advanced directives.
Reva Tift, M.A. is the director of AHCD Guidance that provides a comprehensive process with which to document preferences for end of life care. Since 1979, Reva has worked extensively with mid-life and aging issues through teaching and consultations in both small and large group settings. Drawing on her experience as a teacher, psychotherapist, wife, mother, and mentor Reva offers knowledge and guidance in making thoughtful decisions about the care we would like to receive at the end of our lives.
Reva Tift M.A. Advance Health Care Directives
~ Consultations for the End of Life Care
© Copyright 2014 Reva Tift, Director Advance Health Directive Guidance