PREPARING FOR THE END OF LIFE

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Recently my family has been struggling with some very tough situations. My father who is not yet 70 is very ill and has been hospitalized repeatedly since having a stroke in October 2018. I have had a lot of things that crossed my mind along the way as far as things that people should focus on more before these difficult times arrive. We can consider our options now, while we are healthy and not in a haze of stress and confusion. There are many important factors financially, emotionally and legally to be addressed before we or our loved ones are ultimately faced hard choices. I am not an expert on any of this but I can say that as a daughter faced with all of these questions and as a health care worker for many years I know that these things are so important.

Things to consider…..

  • Life insurance – you may not see the need at this point but for many life insurance can be an important factor in protecting their families. Life insurance protects your family from loss of income due to their loved ones death. It can also be an important safety net covering funeral, burial, and other related expenses. I am not expert on life insurance so I will leave you with just the basics here. I can say when you do not plan ahead financially it can have devastating results for your loved ones. We chose a term life policy in our mid-thirties that pays out enough to eliminate our debt, cover a funeral, and leave a small cushion for one of us.
  • A standard last will and testament- What is a will and why is it important in the end of life? A will is a legal document containing instructions on what to do with an individual’s property and money upon their death. Drawing up a will sounds something you just don’t want to do. However, this provides clarity and peace of mind for you and your family. Many sibling relationships have been strained as a result of miscommunication. This article may help explain further about a standard last will and testament standard-last-testament
  • Living will – If you have heard the terms “will” and “living will” you may not know the difference, but there is one. This article may help to explain the differences between the two better than I ever could. Hopefully it can help you to determine the best course of action to get started establishing one in your own life. standard-will-vs-living-will A living will is a written statement sharing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive. This is so  important in helping both medical staff and your family make tough decisions based on your wishes for your final days. Basically it speaks on your behalf, concerning medical care if you are unable to communicate. I have witnessed families agonizing, guessing, and even fighting on what their unresponsive family member would have wanted. Some helpful resources to help you understand a living will better are ….. mayoclinic.org/living-wills , eforms.com/living-will , vitas.com/about-hospice/advance-directives
  • Power of attorney – Another extremely important thing to have in place is a power of attorney. A power of attorney is described as “the authority to act for another person in specified or all legal or financial matters. A legal document giving power of attorney to someone.” Some helpful resources for power of attorney….. americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_resources/estate_planning/power_of_attorney , lawdepot.com/contracts/power-of-attorney-form & youtu.be/power of attorney

Right now I want to challenge you to do the hard thing and face what none of us wants to in life. We should accept the reality that we are not immortal and recognize that there is an end for all of us. Our time will come and none of knows exactly when that will be. It is one of the toughest things that you will ever have to plan for, but it is one of the most crucial. Why is it so important? What you do not plan for today can leave your family devastated and struggling to manage with out you. One of the most thoughtful ways that you can show your family that you love them is by planning this all in advance. Give them clear answers so that they won’t fall into arguments over what your wishes are. Do not leave hard decisions up to them, as they may not be supported by other family members. Your family can then focus on what is most important in the end which is being there for you in your final days, celebrating your life, and comforting each other.