Page 2 - Senior Times South Central Michigan August 2020 - 27-08
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Page 2 Senior Times - August 2020
By: Tim Mitchell, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E.
  Have you ever thought about what will happen if you become seriously ill or dis- abled? Would your family know what kind of care you would like to receive? Those are extremely uncomfortable questions for most of us. But, think about how uncomfortable
it will be for family members when they are faced with end of life decisions for you with- out any direction.
a week and two significant surgical pro- cedures, a feeding tube was placed in her stomach in addition to her dependence on the respirator.
had discussed their wishes with family or friends (California HealthCare Foundation, 2012).
Discussing end-of-life wishes is how we care for each other. Unless you talk about it with those closest to you, your wishes may never be carried out.
  Not only is it important to have the prop- er documentation in place, but it is equally important to make your wishes very clear to your family. “It’s very important for families to have these conversations on what they want,” said Sally Hurme, a senior project manager at AARP, and also an elder-law attorney. “These conversations are more important than the legal document. Knowing what their values are, what their preferences are, makes the surrogate’s decision so much easier. And it’s better to do this long before you’re on the way to the hospital.”
Two weeks after her fall Alice still remained in the hospital. It was at that time a physician happened to find within her medi- cal chart the advanced directive in which she outlined her healthcare wishes. Alice’s son, who had already agreed to life prolonging treatment for her, had never had a conver- sation with his mother about her wishes and was never given a copy of her advance directive.
If a person does complete an advance directive, they are often misplaced or stashed away in drawers unable to be found when a medical decision needs to be made. That is why it is so important to have conversations with the people active in your life. They will be the ones who direct your care when you no longer can because in a crisis doctors will turn to those people – more than to any doc- ument – to learn what their patient wants.
This story is not uncommon, but it doesn’t have to be if proper planning takes place.
 Five years ago, Alice, a now 72-year-old with advancing dementia living in a nursing home, had written an advanced directive for health care while she was still able to make decisions on her own. She had been very specific about her healthcare wishes in this document. In case of life-threatening con- ditions, she wanted “comfort care only, NO heroics.”
Advance care planning, a process of preparing for future medical decisions based on your wishes, values, and personal preferences, is a way you can stay in con- trol of this aspect of your life and elimi- nate uncertainty for your family.
You can’t predict the future, but you can be prepared for it. At the end of life each story is different, but you have the oppor- tunity to be the author of your own story. Maybe it’s time to say to your closest family members, “Let’s talk.” If you haven’t done so already, start an advance care planning conversation soon with your family and phy- sician. You can pick up an advanced direc- tive document from your doctor’s office or online at resources/documents.
 Unfortunately, last month Alice had a fall, which resulted in internal bleeding. She was immediately sent to the hospital where the decision was made, after consultation with her only son, to put her on a breathing machine. The bleeding slowed but doctors were unable to stop it completely. After
Taking the appropriate steps now by com- pleting an “advance directive” (a legal docu- ment specifying what actions should be taken for your medical care if you are no longer able to make those decisions) can give you confidence that your wishes are documented and, perhaps more importantly, are under- stood and will be followed by those who are closest to you.
At Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. we have a team of medical professionals who are very willing to help older adults navi- gate these important end-of-life choices. To find out more about the services provided by Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. and how we may be able to help you or a family member, please call (269) 441-9319 or visit
In one finding 80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care. However only a mere 7% reported having an end-of-life conversation with their doctor and only 25%
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