Advanced Directives and Living Wills

April 28, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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When we were kids, we used to put our hands over our ears and hum loudly or say, “I can’t hear you.”  It was our way of telling the other child who was speaking that we were not interested in, and would not listen to whatever they had to say. 

Then there’s my youngest son.  He covers his face with his favorite blanket.  That’s his way of “hiding.”  He figures, if he can’t see me, then I can’t see him.

What’s the point?  I’m glad you asked.

The point is that, we adults do the very same thing. We act as if not talking about end of life issues will keep us from having to deal with them.  We put our proverbial hands over our ears or blankets over our heads as if to declare, “I can’t hear it and I can’t see it, so it must not be. “

This is a sensitive subject for me, as neither of my parents made their wishes clear.  Neither had living wills or Advanced Directives.  So, I was forced to make some very difficult decisions in both cases.

When it hits you that you have very little time with someone you love very much, the last thing you need to layer onto that very difficult time is more questions.  Especially questions that can, at least to some degree, be handled in advance.

Making a decision now will help to keep peace.  Grief impacts everyone differently.  Some people would rather have their loved ones alive no matter what.  Others can’t bear to see them suffer. Take that burden off of them. Make your wishes known, in writing.

What is an Advanced Directive?

An advanced directive is simply giving directions (in advance) regarding end of life issues.  Thinking about the end of life BEFORE it comes.  Advanced directives can be verbal.  Certainly not the best, but it does make the decision making process a little easier if someone can remember what a person said.  A Living Will is the best.  Click here for a sample of a living will.  It’s a written, legal document that explains your wishes regarding tube feeding, dialysis, invasive procedures, living for an extended period of time on a respirator, etc.  I’ll discuss Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders in a seperate post.

So, whether or not you have Alzheimer’s disease, whether you are sick or healthy, do yourself and the loved ones in your life a favor.  Take your hands off your ears and the blanket from over your head.  Please, do a living will and encourage your loved ones to do it too.

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