Yes, that’s “mapping” as in “navigating” or “finding your way” to a good death for yourself. It’s something most of us don’t give much thought to because we
- think we have no control over when we will die
- don’t really like to think or talk about it (see previous blog)
- hope that when it comes it will be fast and painless
I’m going to challenge the first one, about having no control over when we die. This is true to a degree in that most of us don’t know WHEN it will happen, but we do know THAT it will happen. Since that’s a fact that is difficult to refute, lets make a plan that we, or others close to us, can follow so that even if we lose our minds in old age, “they” will know what our wishes are for quality of life before we actually check-out.
This is not about “Choosing your Death” like they have in Holland or Oregon where people who are dying from terminal diseases and suffering can choose to end their lives earlier with the assistance of doctors and drugs. That’s a discussion for another blog – which we will do later.
This conversation is more about mapping out a plan for your final years of life. This plan should be made sooner rather than later for the simple reason you are probably more able to do the research and determine what you want now than if you wait until you are more feeble or confused, or worse, moving toward a type of dementia rendering you unable to make good judgments for yourself.
I am 65 and still of sound mind (my kids probably question that) and I’m making my plan now and will share it with my loved ones incase my check-out time surprises everyone, myself included. Like a Will I can always change my plan down the road if I have a change of heart about something.
So what’s in a typical end-of-life plan? You need to ask yourself a bunch of questions and answer them very honestly. You also might want to discuss some of these questions with your spouse or adult children. Here are some questions to consider:
- Advocacy: When you can no longer advocate for yourself who would you trust to be your voice? Your spouse, children, a friend, a lawyer? This could include decisions about all of your health, money, real estate issues. You might also have a dependent child or pets that need ongoing care or new homes.
- Legal Documents: To be considered by you?
- A Will names your Executor(s) who will disburse your assets according to your wishes, arrange the disposal of the body, etc.
- A Power of Attorney (PoA) names someone you trust to be your voice before you die. Their signature(s) becomes yours.
- A Living Will instructs your PoA, loved ones and medical team how you want to be treated at the end of your life using a number of different scenarios. It can include your wishes for a DNR order.
- DNR Order (Do Not Resuscitate): Do you want to be kept alive on machines even though your body has or is dying? With a DNR Order medical personnel will not go to extraordinary means to bring you back to life. (ie., by using CPR, cracking your chest, open-heart surgery, shocking the heart, etc.)
- Care Home: Would you prefer to die at home or in a care facility? You need to research this carefully as they both have their pros & cons. (That’s another blog to come) Care homes have improved greatly over the past 20 years. Also, consider WHERE you want to spend your final years. In your current community or closer to you’re your adult children where they can visit more frequently?
- Public or Private Care: What can you afford? If you have lots of money you have lots of choices in private Independent/Supportive and Assisted Living residences. If you have limited income you will be eligible for subsidy in residential care through the local health authorities. A case manager will assess and determine your needs, how much subsidy you get and when to put you on a wait-list.