By Karen McCoy, Marketing Consultant, Ridgecrest Village
Here you are, in the hospital feeling ill and they ask you: “Do you have a living will on file anywhere?” Now this is the last thing I am thinking of when I am there to get medical help, but it seems that this is an important detail for anyone giving you medical care. It is confusing just trying to figure out what all of them are, let alone how to go about doing it. The reasons to establish a living will are important. Of course, you want to protect your property and ensure the assets you’ve worked hard for are passed to your loved ones. You want to prevent confusion or disagreements after you are gone. You want to take the burden off your children to make decisions for you on things you have not discussed.
Below is a story shared with me by a friend, and it happens more than we realize.
Last year, my mother died at age 88. While she spoke of having a living will, she never got around to doing one. That presented a quandary for us when our mother went into an intensive care unit in a hospital. When I arrived at the hospital, my mother lay unconscious in the intensive care unit. A staff member was able to waken her. She opened her eyes and recognizing me, moved her hand toward mine. Then she quickly lapsed back into an unconscious state. My mother was 88 and had multiple health problems. My brothers and I thought our mother had a living will, but a call to her lawyer proved otherwise. So, while she lay unresponsive, hooked up with an array of tubes, we discussed what she would want in medical care.
My mother had given one of my brothers the medical power of attorney to make decisions on her behalf. On a couple of occasions, Mom had mentioned that she did not want to be in a vegetative state as her mother had been for years. A document spelling out what our Mom wanted in medical care, though, would have made our decision-making a little easier. It’s very important for families to have these conversations on what they want. Knowing what their values are, what their preferences are makes the surrogate’s decision so much easier. It’s better to do this long before you’re on the way to the hospital. My mother never fully regained consciousness, and when she passed, I went home determined to have these end-of-life discussions with my own family. Everyone should have discussions about emergency medical scenarios. Having them can give us peace of mind and provide peace of mind for caregivers who may have to make decisions for us.
Ridgecrest Village is hosting a special seminar that will help you sort out what needs to be done and when. How to go about it and who needs to do it. Please join us for light refreshments and an informal presentation. Please call for reservations 563-391-3430.