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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Who Decides Right from Wrong? March 6, 2013

As caregivers for elderly or ill parents, siblings or spouses, our obligations do not end when our loved ones move to a care facility. We attempt to insure that their wishes are written down and that their needs are met.
How do we do this? How can we do this for ourselves so we are not dependent on others to guess what we wish for ourselves?
I know the first step is to be willing and able to discuss end of life issues within families. This requires lifting the unspoken ban on talking about death. Medical science, healthful eating and exercise have all increased our lifespan, but end of life will come--at old age during restful sleep--we all hope.
So let's assume we have future directives in place. We have wills and or trusts for after our lives end, we have medical proxies and living wills for decisions to be made if we are not capable of participating at that time.
Who decides whether or not to follow our requests?
I am concerned about the 911 operator calling in response to a possible heart attack call that was not received from the patient, but from another resident or an administrator at a facility.
If the person who had the heart attack did not wish to be resuscitated and had a written authorized request on file, no one has the right to do anything but keep the patient comfortable and safe.
The medical profession has the obligation to do whatever is necessary to keep us alive; they can be sued if they don't. But we have the right to determine that we don't want that intervention.
And if we have isued in our behalf, a Do Not Resuscitate Order, no 911 operator has the right to countermand that order.
Check out the credentials of any housing facility you pick for your relatives or for yourself. Provide them with all of your paperwork and trust they will follow the protocols that protect our lives and our wishes at end of life.

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