As its Dying Matters Awareness Week I would like to talk to you about the importance of getting your elderly loved ones to make plans for their end of life care. I have seen what happens when people don’t plan for having an accident, a stroke or an illness such as dementia, which leaves them unable to make decisions such as whether they want life prolonging treatment and how and where they would like to be treated.
This issue is very important to me and although I will be unable to control what happens to me if I find myself in this situation, I want to choose how I live the end of my life and how my funeral is conducted. I have therefore taken out a Lasting Power of Attorney for both my property and affairs and my health and well-being. I am also one of the 3 in 10 people who have made a will. Why on earth would I want to leave my hard earned dosh to the Government?
I would much rather address these matters while I am relatively young and have no intention of dying, although like everyone else I have no control over that whatsoever. If I leave it too late and am no longer able to make my own decisions, I will not be able to make these plans myself. Now I can relax, forget about the Lasting Powers of Attorney which will only be able to be used if I am unfortunate enough to loose my marbles so there is no danger of my sons (who are my attorneys) selling my home and emigrating with my loot.
Although it is possible to download the LPA forms and will template from the Internet and do it yourself I chose not to do this as unintentional mistakes can be made by not considering all eventualities. If you have made your own will and LPAs this only comes to light when it is too late to do anything about it. So find yourself a good solicitor. You will be glad you did.
Here is an example of a situation I remember from my days of working on night duty at the local hospital. that illustrates my point nicely. I have made up their names for anonymity. To be honest I can’t remember them anyway!
Example of how failing to plan can cause conflict in a family
Steve lived near his father and they had an especially close relationship. When his father had a stroke Steve was asked whether or not he wanted his father to be resuscitated if his condition deteriorated. Steve told me that his father valued his quality of life and felt that if it was seriously compromised, he would not want his life to be prolonged. However, his brother disagreed and as you can imagine, the situation could have caused a serious conflict within the family. Luckily his father’s condition improved and a decision did not have to be made.
Another example is a personal one. When my father became terminally ill, I knew exactly what his wishes were and had power of attorney to back up decisions I made on his behalf. He died peacefully at home listening to his favourite music, being assured it was OK to let go and reassured that my brother, sister and I would look after our Mother. I cannot stress enough the comfort it gave me to know I was carrying out his wishes just as he would have wanted.
A letter of wishes
I have one last thing to do to ensure my choices are taken into account, I am writing a letter of wishes to be go with my papers, so that my sons know exactly what I want to happen if I have an accident become seriously ill or lose the ability to make decisions for any other reason. Also where and how I want to live if I am unable to make my own choices, how I would like my body disposed of at the end of my life and what I want to happen afterwards.
We are all going to die
As a society we tend to avoid talking about these matters. However, death is a part of life and if they are faced, discussed and planned for we can forget about them, know our wishes will be heeded and acted upon and that we have saved the person or people we have left behind the responsibility of guessing our choices. Don’t leave it too late
Millions leave it too late to discuss end of life wishes. Don’t let an older person you care about be one of them.! The following website offers lots of good information to help you. Dying Matters.Org