Most of you know my mother passed away last month after a long battle with Alzheimer's. It's a horrible disease that sneaks in and robs us of so much. I know I'm simplifying it, but in the end, along with forgetting so many things in her life, she forgot how to swallow and couldn't eat. The choice came down to a feeding tube or Hospice. Mom went into Hospice and passed away at 87 a week later
Mom had a Living Will instructing no heroic measures be made for her survival. If you're not familiar with a Living Will here's text book definition:
Advance health care directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, is a set of written instructions that a person gives that specify what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.
As we were putting her into Hospice, her doctor told us the greatest gift she could give us was that advance directive. We were able to make the toughest decisions based on her wishes without the agony of wondering what she would have wanted. She passed away peacefully with dignity and her family all around her.
I don't care how old you are, if you love your family and friends, help them make the most important decisions in your life and theirs. Have a Living Will with your wishes clearly spelled out. And, if you're caring for a loved one who's older and likely to head down this path in the near future, meet with an elder law attorney and get your loved one's wishes documented.
I've heard so many horror stories about the "last chapter" in people's lives being true nightmares, because their family had to argue over the final decisions.
Mom's illness introduced Dad and I to a very special group of people here in Sarasota at the Senior Friendship Centers. We now do a podcast twice a month, "Ten Minutes with Paula" for caregivers. In this recent episode, Paula Falk and I talk about the importance of an advance directive.