Frequently Asked Questions
Are you responsible for living your life?
Most everyone would say, “Yes I am!” But when does that responsibility end? The answer is never. Planning for the end of your life is your responsibility regardless of age.
Having Your Voice to the End of Your Life is designed to help you articulate your end of life wishes for a time in the future when you may not be able to make such decisions for yourself.
The seminar/workshop involves extensive reflection and conversation about your end of life wishes followed by the completion of forms which are then provided to your doctor, lawyer, medical proxy, and family.
You will be exposed to and asked to develop solutions to the obstacles which may be encountered from the medical system, loved ones, and from within.
“I’m young and healthy, why should I complete an Advanced Medical Directive?
Terry Shivo and Karen Ann Quinlin are just two well known examples of young women who had serious medical problems which resulted in their being in a “permanently vegetative state”. Both women, after many years in this state became subjects of furious legal battles which ultimately resulted in them being allowed to die. The costs of their care were astronomic. Had an Advanced Medical Directive been in place, their families might have been spared years of anguish.
As a responsible adult you should do the same for your family and for your self: letting people who love you know what you would want should you have an accident or serious illness which makes it impossible for you to make decisions regarding your medical care in a way that is legal and binding.
Can Medical Directives be changed or revoked?
Yes but you need to notify those who hold copies of these documents that you are terminating or revoking the instructions. It can be as simple as writing “revoked” across it, signing, and dating it. If possible you should provide a copy of your revocation to everyone who holds a copy of the original documents. It would be good to explain yourself and come up with new instructions which would better suit your wishes.
Can’t I depend on the medical system to help me sustain life?
Yes, for a while but not forever.
The medical system is dedicated towards helping you live and recover from what ails you and advances in the past 30 years have enabled physicians to sustain life in ways that are incredible and welcome. But sometimes those interventions prolong life well beyond what a person would want. Click here to see an article which describes such a situation.
A time will come when your body will stop working and you must decide when and how to say, “Enough, no more medical treatment!” At this point, it is possible that you will meet strong resistance to this decision from physicians and/or family members.
Doctors are taught to sustain life. Few are familiar or comfortable with not doing everything possible to keep a person alive.
Similarly, there are family members who may resist letting you go for obvious reasons: they love you and can’t bear to lose you.
There are options for dealing with this issue and to help you die pain free, conscious, and in contact with those you love
What is an Advance Medical Directive (AMD)?
AMD is a legal document which you can prepare and give to your lawyer, doctor, and family. It is very important that the AMD have sufficient detail for medical personnel and family members.
Articulating your wishes regarding artificial nutrition and hydration, use of antibiotics, lab tests, minor surgery, etc. in various situations allows physicians an opportunity to know what you want.
What about quality of life?
Considering quality of life is a complex issue. When will you conclude that you don’t want to continue living because your quality of life is unacceptable? This is an important and vexing question for people of any age and few have a clear answer to this. Yet we all need to give careful consideration to our “bottom line”…the point at which we would not want to continue living. Our age, our family status, and a host of other factors will influence our decision.
What are Hospice and Palliative Care?
Hospice is a national organization that assists patients and their families when someone is dying. Medical personnel and trained volunteers come into one’s home or medical facility to provide support and medical services to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Generally, Hospice can be available to a patient during the last six months of life.
Palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty which is oriented towards helping patients be as comfortable and pain free as possible. Treating the underlying condition is not a part of their task. These medical personnel are extremely knowledgeable about the best medicines to use to help the patient achieve their desired state. Palliative care physicians take the basic position that no patient has to be in pain at the end of their life.
Here are a few statistics about the cost of Palliative care at end of life reported in 2006..
- Patents in the palliative care unit required $5ll for drugs while those in the regular hospital required $2267.00
- Lab work for palliative patients was $56; for others, lab costs $1134.
- diagnostic imaging ran $29 for palliative patients, compared with $615 for other patients.
- Medical supplies were $731 versus $1821.
- Miscellaneous other costs amounted to $278 in the palliative care unit and $2152 for regular patients.
- The costs were closer for rooms and nursing, $3708 in the palliative unit and $4330 elsewhere reflecting the human contact needs that rank highly in competent end of life care.