The call came into my husband’s cell phone as we were sitting down for his 50th birthday dinner:
“Your father has fallen and requires emergency surgery.” Since Bob had dementia and didn’t have family in the area, the doctors immediately looked to contact his health care proxy. Fortunately, years before the dementia set in, Bob had executed a document giving my husband the authority to make medical decisions if Bob were unable to do so for himself. That “what if” time had come, and my husband was able to give consent for the surgery immediately.
Bob came out of the surgery fairly well, but due to the nature of the injury, complications ensued. Bob was put on a ventilator as a temporary measure to give his body a chance to heal. Plan A was to wean him off the ventilator after a day or two, and eventually send him back to physical rehabilitation. But Plan B was required. Bob didn’t respond as the medical team had hoped, and the situation became even more serious. My husband, again as the health care proxy, had to choose between two procedures, neither one with a guaranteed outcome, or guaranteed quality of life.
This left my husband to wonder “What would Dad want?”. He recalled a conversation, before the dementia had taken most of his father’s personality away, where Bob had expressed his health care and quality of life wishes. The weight of the decision upon his shoulders, my husband reached out to Bob’s siblings. They gave their input on the conversations they had with Bob over the years, and the decision was clear.
My husband, his family, and I were grateful that Bob had the foresight to think about “What if”.
- Bob had his estate plan in order so when a time came that he couldn’t speak for himself, he had already elected someone whom he trusted to step in and speak for him when he couldn’t speak for himself. Therefore we did not have to go through an emergency court hearing to appoint a guardian – someone to make medical decisions for Bob.
- Bob had conversations with his loved ones about his end-of-life wishes. Had he not done so, my husband would be left wondering if he made the right decision for his father.
Talking about medical and financial end-of-life decisions is not easy –
and shouldn’t be just a one-time conversation. Expressing your quality of life wishes to your loved ones when opportunity lends itself, especially to the person whom you have named your health care proxy, can ensure that your life is lived out to your desires. If your loved ones find themselves in a position similar to the one my husband was in, knowing you’ve had such conversations will allow everyone to rest assured that they are consenting to something they know YOU would want. It makes an extremely difficult time a little bit easier.
If you need to have the conversation with your loved ones and don’t know where to begin,
Generations Law Group has workbooks to help you start the conversation, know what to discuss, and what you need to have in place to make sure your life remains under your control. Download our e-book “Life Conversations with your Aging Parents” or “Life Conversations with your Adult Children”. If you would like a copy of these workbooks mailed to you, or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 978-263-0006.