What does the future hold?

agnespuffinSeptember 29, 2008

My husband and I have reached that age when we start planning for the end. We have witnessed the deaths of brothers and sisters, and many friends. Some passed easily, and some, I am sad to say, did not. The worse was a brother who had a son that insisted that the Doctors do everything to "save" his father.

The amount of medication, assisted breathing, heart stimulation, feeding tubes, etc. that can be done now to prolong life is unbelievable. I don't think that most people understand how much will be done when they tell the doctors that they want everything possible done to save the loved one.

I think we are beginning to see a trend where people are beginning to refuse certain treatments that will merely postpone death a short while. We have both refused to take pneumonia vaccine for this reason, pneumonia is one of the easier ways to go.

I hope when our time comes, our children know us well enough to know that it OK to just let us go.

My mother was in a Nursing Home with severe Alzheimers for several years. Her behavior was a big problem. Sometimes she even required physical restraint as she was quite healthy and strong. She fell and broke her hip. The doctor told me that the mortality rate for someone her age was quite high. I told him that if she got pneumonia or a blood clot, then I wanted him to just let her go and if he wasn't comfortable with that, I would get another surgeon.

Late that night, the phone rang. It was the surgeon. He felt that he just had to thank me for making that decision. So many families didn't even want to talk about it and it was left up to the doctor to decide. It was a difficult thing for him. She did develop pneumonia and died quietly and easily within a couple of days. Her minister told me at her funeral, "Your mother died a long time ago. It was time for her body to go to."

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The nursing home asked me if my mom has a heart attack do they want her revived, I said no. She does not want to be hooked up to machines and such. She is not living her life now so I don't want to see her kept alive just to run up a bigger bill.
My brother on the other hand is only 60 so yes, if he would have a heart attack I would want every thing done and then he and I could talk from there.

I sure as heck do not want any of that stuff either and pray when that time comes for me someone will speak up on my behalf.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 10:10PM
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i have already told my children just to let me go, no machines etc. when that ambulance came and got Al that morning that er doctor thought it was a diabetic coma and he would be fine in the next while. when he went to icu that rest of the day and the next part of the day he had an mri, which told them he had a massive stroke we were told he could be on life support (but it was the left side of his brain) or disconnect the machines -- we chose to turn off the machines, we (he) was lucky that they were turned off at 5 and he passed just before 10. so he didn't suffer (i don't think he did) for a long time. it is the most difficult decision i've ever had to make and i do not regret it now at all. Al was sick for 10 years and the past few years he was bedridden, and i still miss him and visit him every day.
we in canada are very lucky our health care is free, and the new hospital we have has only afew public wards - 4 beds for a room the rest are semi private or private, so 98% of the time you end up with the latter. i think you get 2 free ambulance rides per year and after age 60 or so most of the meds are free.

wish you could all see the lovely change of the leaves here, but it's already 38 degrees out, winter is coming!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 12:53AM
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Now that I am here in the position of making the decision to resuscitate my father or not I'm choosing to not have him resuscitate. It is very hard to say it out loud but I know in my heart that where he is now is far worse than letting go. His heart is give out, his body is worn but worse of all his mind is going too.
Dad has only been in the nursing home 5 days for dementia but they tell me that he is crying his heart out for me and ask where I am, this is killing me to know he's in such misery. His mind cannot understand or hold onto what he's told so trying to talk to him to calm him down only works while I'm there telling him all is ok, once I'm gone he gets scared.
I feel it is much kinder to let a loved one go if they will not be living a quality life.
I know if it was me I'd want my family to let me go and not watch me suffer.
We never know what the future holds that is why we try to take care of business before something happens.
With what I'm going through with my dad I'm the only one that has POA, so Friday I purchased his funeral arrangements so the family does not have to worry about coming up with the money to bury pops as DH calls him and grandpa to my kids.
I can't say I will think of everything that needs to be done but I'm trying to get all our ducks in a row to make our life easier. We have enough to deal with in just day to day life without illness or accidents throwing us a curve ball.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 7:49AM
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You are taking all the right steps, I did the same thing, getting funeral arrangements made and so on. It will make it easier on you when the time comes.
Letting go is very hard but we have to always ask ourselves, if tempted to change our minds, are we doing this for our loved one or our own selfish need to keep them here. I don't want to loose my parents, but I know it will happen, I have to let go when the time comes and keep the memories of their love.
I admire your strength in dealing with all that needs done. I can tell you that my neighbor in my old place had Alzheimers, he also would cry a lot, but his family was there, so I think maybe it is part of the disease of slowly becoming more demented. Even my dad will have his moments of crying and when I ask him what is wrong he will say "I don't know, I just can't remember things anymore"
Hang in there, we are here for you and I know you will be there for us!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:10AM
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There is also the Living Will where the person has in writing and is considered a legal document, what they want done. It is very specific as to resusitate or do not resusitate. You can give it to the doctor, hospital or other medical to make a copy for their permanent file. You keep the original with your legal papers.
My husband did a living will. I don't want to make that decision. To me it's as I was raised and believe, God's will, not my will. It is not my place to decide. I just can't do that, no way, no how. My husband's doctors have told me I can't remember how many times that they didn't believe he'd make it. Well, the little toad is still here. He has a heart that only functions at 20%. BUT, he enjoys his little Tater Tot, cockapoo, the flowers, the pond, the foal, and so many things. What if I had said do nothing. The quality of life is not the same but it's his life.
I have very strong feelngs about life and have no intent on offending anyone and certainly not judging anyone. With all the new technology, we are put in a position that in years past happened naturally. It's a sad place to be and my heart goes out to anyone in that position, having to make that horrible decision.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 10:04PM
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My father died well before his time but he went quickly without suffering. My mother has lived to 86 with much suffering. At 16 I had to choose my father's casket, make the arrangements etc as my much older brothers "just couldn't do it". For all the differences we had, my mom did pull herself together within the year and set up burial plans for herself and my younger brother who is Downs Syndrome. I will not have to go through that when the time comes for either of them and I consider myself fortunate.
For those who have made their choice and are comfortable with it, I would encourage you to do a Living Will. My mom did this also. She did it to take the burden off me. She wants no artifical means to stay alive and at this point and the lack of quality in her life, it would be cruel.
This is a heart wrenching topic but one we will no doubt all face at some level. I think the decisions we make for ourselves or our loved ones who can't, lifts a burden from our children.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:57PM
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A living will is no good to me if there is no one to execute it when the time comes. I have no children, am not married, my brother is already in a nursing home so there is no one left. I will be alone and can only pray that my wishes will be honored somehow.
I have the Living Will for mom, dad and brother and I will make sure their wishes are met when the time comes.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 7:22PM
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Hi All,
I haven't posted on this forum before, but I've been lurking for sometime---I have a mother who's 93. I'm 66 and in good health. My mother and I both have living wills; I also have her power of attorney and health care power of attorney. You never know what may happen, and I don't want anyone else deciding for me without knowing what I want. My mother and father had living wills since 1978 and updated them periodically.

In Georgia (and probably other states) a living will isn't just for those who want no heroic measures to prolong their life; it's purpose is for each person to say what he/she wants done. If you want every measure taken, then the living will allows you to choose that option. Your family and friends won't be guessing what you want, they'll have the info just as you provide it. In fact in Georgia, the questions are quite detailed about the care you want--- water, food, pain meds, surgery, ventilator, and donation of organs.

You can choose your own Personal Agent for Health Care. This person doesn't have to be a family member but can be a friend or even an attorney---anyone you trust. My local hospital provides blank forms that conform to the state of Georgia's laws on living wills. As you can tell, I'm passionate on this subject.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 12:12PM
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Linda, and others in the same situation, Make copies of your living will and Heath care POW. Make sure that your doctor has a copy in his file. Our hospitals always ask if we have one when we are admitted, if so, a copy is placed in the file along with the doctor's orders.

Make sure that your doctor understands that this is not just a passing whim, but that you are very serious about not prolonging life when there is no hope of recovery

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:47PM
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The biggest problem is a LIVING WILL does not follow you where ever you go. So, the hospital might have one on file but if they ship you to another hospital, or nursing home they won't know because it does not follow you. I have been through this with my mom and my brother. Even from the nursing home to the hospital it does not follow. Now the hospital we deal with is high tech in that they keep stuff on computers so one does not have to keep repeating the same stuff every time they are admitted. However once you leave there the Living Will stays there.......this is why I said without someone to help it CAN become a useless piece of paper.
In the hospital you have your GP checking in on you no matter how many other doctors you see, but if you need nursing home care then you start fresh, with a new doctor that calls on that home. So it is a good idea to give one to the doctor but as you can see that may prove fruitless too.
I can't tell you how many times I had to produce a copy to leave at different places, that is what really opened my eyes to the whole process, meaning there is really no help for the person who is totally alone.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:56PM
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Also, if you are admitted to emergency care, they will NOT have a copy of your LW or Healthcare POA docs. Whoever is your designated guardian should bring along a copy, just in case.

In our case, we are members of an HMO. The POA is buried under various visit records and doctor's notes - remember, everything is filed chronologically - and if it's really old, it is in the archives - which can only be accessed weekdays during business hours.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 11:37AM
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When my husband & I had our trusts, wills, POA's, etc. drawn up, our attorney arranged for a service called DocuBank. We now carry a card that any health care provider can use to access our legal documents. This kind of thing might be helpful. Here's a quote from their web site and the URL:

"The DocuBank Emergency Card provides immediate access to your healthcare directives, any time, anywhere they are needed. DocuBank provides access to the following critical documents: Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPAA release, organ donation form, hospital visitation forms, burial instructions and more. DocuBank makes your healthcare directives work."

Here is a link that might be useful: DocuBank

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 6:44PM
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shambo, thanks for the link, I will look in to this and discuss with my attorney. Might be just what I need!

jkom51, the hospital I deal with puts all in to the computer and even if you go in through ER they can pull it up. It's once ya leave there that it does not follow.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 6:50PM
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You also need a comfort care only document. That document can be done by the spouse and doctor, my husband didn't have to do it ahead of time. It could probably be signed by a child and the patient's doctor also. A living will handles machines and this document handles meds or anything that prolongs life.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 2:46PM
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I'm pretty sure now that science has pinpointed the cause of aging,free rasicals waste products of healthy celliar activity that damage DNA, that they will someday create an injection,maybe a series of them that will cause us to be immortal or to live hundreds of years instead of the useal 80 to 100. Weather or not this would be good is debatable, some say yeah because it will allow humans to see the concquences of their actions.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 10:14PM
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My sister died in November at the age of 60, after only being diagnosed in July. Bless her heart, she never really got her affairs in order (she was afraid by doing so that she would be giving up.) Unfortunately, this has left her sons in utter confusion. In fact, it was confusion from the time she took her last breath. She had not made any arrangements or shared her thoughts with anyone. We did the best we could in preparing her memorial service, but her sons are still struggling - they don't know where she kept any of her essential papers, such as birth certificates, information on company shares, etc.

To keep my husband and I from going through this, I ordered us copies of "Five Wishes" off of the website www.agingwithdignity.org. I also ordered one for my mother, who has a will, but not a living will. While she was visiting last week, we sat down with a cup of coffee and did ours together. She was so grateful that we had thought of this. It is legal in 40 states, and only requires that it be signed by two witnesses (non-family members.) It enables one to state what treatment might be wanted or not wanted, how one wants people to treat him/her when dying, how one wants to be buried/cremated, what one wants their loved ones to know. I did cry a little when doing it, only because it would have made my sister's passing so much easier if she would have done the same.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I have done all the plans for my dads burial and everything is paid for. I did not want to go through what we did with my uncle. Now were getting ours done. I don't want to leave it up to my children, not that they wouldn't know what to do but this way it's done and all they have to do is a few small task when the time comes.
My uncle did have an estate planning book that had a few details of what he wanted done and we were very thankful for it.
My mom's parents paid for their burials in the 50's and I can tell you it made it much easier not having to make so many decisions at that time of our life.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:09AM
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mikeandbarb, after my mother-in-law died unexpectedly at the age of 48, I witnessed my father-in-law and husband go through the agony meeting with the funeral home, picking out caskets and marker, etc., while totally engulfed in grief. My parents were also shocked and saddened, so that year, for their anniversary present, my dad pre-arranged and pre-paid their funerals. Everyone teased him about his weird gift giving, but when he passed away two years ago and all it took was a call and brief visit to the funeral home, we were all so very grateful.

My husband and I plan to be cremated, so our plans will be much simpler. The Living Will ("Five Wishes") more or less takes care of the rest.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 9:04AM
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I looked up the three wishes and it is not available in Texas. I have a family lawyer who handles living wills and such so I've got a heads up on most of everything. It's the personal things I'm having a battle with, thing's that no one else can answer for me.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:10PM
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Barb--could you clarify what you mean personal things--email me if you wish. Maybe just talking about them will help.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:09PM
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Disposing of the old personnal things is a hard thing to do. You just don't want to toss stuff like that in the garbage along with the kitchen scraps. Let me suggest that you think about what we did.

We went through the papers,etc. to make sure that there wasn't anything there that might be important like stock certificates or hidden money, (and there was!) and then we built a small fire in the back yard and burnt everything like that. We also burnt worn out books and stacks of old religious tracts and Sunday School leasons. Snapshots of people that we did not know was another thing that went. My mother had even saved some of my old baby stuff. Well, if you want to get technical, she was one of those that save a lot of things that would never be needed. They were all burnt.

One of our local churches provides furniture, dishes and other household things for people that have fallen on hard times. I called them and told them that they could have anything they wanted in the house....but they had to TAKE EVERYTHING and dispose of it somehow. That's what they did. When they finished, the house was stripped and all we had to do was clean and sell it. They got three bedrooms of furniture, refrigerator, washer, tables, lamps and even pictures from the walls. I could not have begun to handle it without them. That's one way of solving the problem. Maybe something like that would work for you.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 9:44AM
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This is a sad thread, I hope everyone on here finds what they need or/are looking for.

I have a new uncle who's only in his 50's and dying of lung/brain cancer.

My biological mother died from type 1 diabetes when I was only 12, I'm 22 now with a stepmother.

Dad still saves my old mother's horror/crime novels in the basement - on a brighter note I read them from time to time- Shaman woods is GREAT!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 12:23PM
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