To follow up on important topics from the last post in this series, please read the comments left by “Lula.” Remember that little black bubble at the end of each post? Just click the bubble on Death Decisions (Jan. 25, 2017) to read the important information she has shared with us.
One issue that Lula mentioned is Emergency Medical Services (EMS), when called to a home, will likely begin CardioPulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), even if one has a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order on a Living Will. I have always heard the same thing, but an official form* in this state (KY) is meant to address this problem. You should check with your own state, city and/or county for the law where you live. Regardless of one’s current health status it would be helpful to fully understand the guidelines before a need arises. It is understandable this is a potential for problems. The very fact EMS is called indicates an emergency and they come prepared to do what is necessary to save lives. If one has a terminal condition CPR is not likely an appropriate response, but it is unfair to expect emergency personnel to make that distinction or take that responsibility.
Having Hospice involved in end-of-life care can often prevent such situations from occurring. Hospice is a national organization with local offices across the US, providing Palliative Care to patients facing advanced illnesses and to their families. Palliative care involves relieving pain and enhancing quality of life and may be provided in the home, special centers, extended care facilities or special units within an acute care hospital.
When Hospice care began gradually in the US, during the second half of the Twentieth Century, there were specific parameters regarding how long a patient was expected to live in order to be admitted into palliative care. Although this is no longer the case, it is a lingering belief and can make it hard for families to approach the subject. I personally feel Hospice is extremely valuable in providing clinical, pastoral and grief support as well as practical assistance with medical supplies, equipment and even volunteer and respite care. Extensive information is available from National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization** (NHPCO).
Possibly many of you used Hospice services for your family or maybe a close friend and I invite you to share your experience with us if you are comfortable doing so. I will share that in my experience with loved ones the service was not instituted soon enough. In one case, incredulously, it was not possible to get the physician to admit the patient was dying and by the time a referral was made the patient only lived a few hours. The other personal case was just the opposite. The physician recommended, even urged, Hospice service, but the patient wanted to wait a little longer, not realizing the time would approach as quickly as it, in fact, did. In each case the patient did not receive care that would have perhaps eased their passing. I painfully share this hoping it might prevent others from waiting too long.
Lula also shared interesting information about a service which sounds like a good idea for anyone, but especially those who travel often. I am not familiar with Living Will Registry, but you can read about Lula’s own experience as a frequent traveler (in her comments) as well as reviewing the service Online.***
***Living Will Registry http://www.alwr.com
I apologize for the break in our momentum on this subject. I realize we started off strong and then I left you hanging, but it was not my intention. I have been pretty ill (nothing serious) for about two weeks and I guess I’m not SuperWoman, because I could not seem to make it out of my pajamas, much less concentrate on writing, until today. Fever, medication and constant cough can take a lot of energy and I know many of you have experienced this, too. We are back on track now and will look at Funeral and Burial Planning in the next post. I realize this may be a bit too pushy, but if you are so inclined how about working on writing your own Obituary before then? Then we will work together. Your participation is great and makes our experience together so much richer. Thank you!
“I find it delightful that the optimal way I can live my life from moment-to-moment is also the optimal way I can prepare for my death, and equally delightful that acknowledging our future death is a prerequisite for living a truly joyful life now.” Ram Dass, Still Here