As a caregiver, you may be so overwhelmed with caring for your aging parents, a spouse or perhaps a sibling that you have not given any thought to who will care for you when you get to the point of needing assistance. You’re certainly not alone! According to a Pew Research Center study on Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments, “…fully a quarter of adults (27%) say they have not given very much thought or have given no thought at all to how they would like doctors and other medical professionals to handle their medical treatment at the end of their lives.” Additionally, “one-in-five Americans ages 75 and older (22%) say they have neither written down nor talked with someone about their wishes for medical treatment at the end of their lives.” Keep in mind that this is a culture that plans out every detail of daily life from the time to get up in the morning to the mundane plans of work meetings or exciting vacation excursions, but has made no considerable thought to the inevitable – end of life.
With the many advances in healthcare, people are living longer, healthier lives with a much longer life expectancy than certainly their parents or grandparents. Perhaps that contributes to the idea of putting off making those important decisions. A significant caveat to this way of thinking is that making your end of life wishes known is a necessary decision process no matter what your age. Dr. Bernard Hammes, editor of a book, “Having Your Own Say: Getting the Right Care when It Means the Most,” says “while he is especially concerned that people 60 and older make their wishes known to family members and develop a cohesive plan, this should be done by someone who develops a serious illness at any age.”
If you want to find ways to clear a room quickly or create some tension during a family gathering, start talking to your children or other family members about end-of-life issues. Nonetheless, starting up the conversation can help to reduce stress while also presenting the family with a tremendous gift of peace.
One way to ease into this process is by going to mmLearn.org and tune into any one of the several videos we have on end-of-life care. These following videos from mmLearn.org offer advice from professionals with varying areas of expertise relating to this important subject.
- End of Life Care: Dr. Justo Cisneros
- Conceptos Generales de Hopsicio: Dr. Justo Cisneros - Available in Espanol
- Advance Care Planning: Advanced Directives: Dr. Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D.
- Who Decides When You Can’t: Advance Directives: Carol Bertsch, Elder Law Attorney
- From My Position: Advance Care Planning from a Legal and Personal Perspective: Judge Polly Jackson Spencer.
Don’t wait – schedule some time to watch one or more of these informative videos and let us know what you think.