At the Tennessee Society for Healthcare Social Worker's meeting that I attended last week, we discussed the importance of a living will, among other documentation that assists loved ones upon the death of a family member or a friend. Mary Kay Hiatt from Hospice of Chattanooga spoke about an Advance Care Plan and Health Care Agents as well. Have you discussed these five very important questions with your loved one:
- If there was a choice, would you prefer to die in a hospital or at home?
- Could you correctly describe how your loved one would like to be treated in case of a terminal illness?
- Is there someone you trust whom you've appointed to advocate on your behalf when the time is near?
- Have you completed an Advance Care Plan or Health Care Agent?
- On a scale of 1-5, where do you fall if #1 is "let me die without medical intervention and #5 is "Don't give up on me no matter what, try any proven and unproven intervention possible"
After this meeting, I began the conversation with my mom. She then went on to tell me, 'I don't want to linger. Just pull the plug when I can no longer talk.' I replied, 'what about when you can't eat on your own or when you need a breathing machine? What do I do then?' Basically, we have lots to discuss and this discussion is not that easy. Just because she told me what she wants, it is not in writing nor has she told my brother the same thing presenting more problems. All this to say, have the discussion with your loved ones and have them write it down, complete the proper documentation and make sure all family members understand their wishes. The bottom line is, none of us are getting out of here alive. Death is certain although none of us want to discuss it. And, none of us know when we will depart. So, don't hesitate. Having this discussion will be the most important item you have ever discussed with your loved one. If you choose not to discuss, then you have already made a decision to deal with things later when you are stressed and bereaving. My dad told me that he wanted his obituary to read, 'Elvis has left the building! He also wants us to play 'Spirit in the Sky' at his funeral. And, he is not joking! If you would like more information on having this discussion, please reach out to Mary Kay Hiatt at Hospice of Chattanooga 1-800-267-6828. BrightStar Care Chattanooga is the ONLY in-home care provider in Chattanooga that is accredited by the Joint Commission. Our Director of Nursing, Amy Diamondidis, RN, oversees all client care and creates a custom care plan for all clients.