Medicine has performed many miracles and the video link below chronicles a rather typical and understandable end of life event: a seemingly minor health issue cascades into a series of other issues which result in prolonged pain and suffering. With each succeeding medical issue, most people engage in hoping that maybe “this treatment” or procedure will get things back on track. But then it doesn’t.
Generally, older adults are more prone to these health care challenges. Our aging bodies do not respond as well or recover as quickly. All this can elevate the challenge of being a proxy who should be prepared to ask important questions to the person they represent and to the medical personnel caring for them. Those questions are articulated in my book as a template of questions to ask.
Sometimes it is only in retrospect that we see that our well-meaning responses prolonged suffering and/or reduced quality of life. See the anguish, pain and frustration of Keith Olberman as he describes being his Dad’s proxy and the excruciating dilemmas he faces. Note how he urges the viewer to “have the conversation”.
That being said, there are no simple answers to these profound life dilemmas but it is worth at least being aware that we all need to be aware of the challenge of hope versus the reality of or our mortality. Being a proxy can be very difficult.
VIEW THIS WITH YOUR PROXY AND DISCUSS HOW YOU WOULD WANT YOUR PROXY TO RESPOND. IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT YOU CAN NOT ANTICIPATE EVERY MEDICAL SITUATION, BUT IT IS WORTH A GENERAL CONVERSATION.
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