A Peace of Mind Party
If you are of a certain age, you will recall the Frank Sinatra mega hit, 1969's "My Way". The song is a reflection on a life well lived without regrets. It doesn't always happen in real life, but oh, do we try.
End of life planning for seniors is an effort in that direction. Not only can your life end without the regret of leaving important decisions unmade, you can make the decisions in your own way.
Break out the party hats and champagne, it's time to roll up your sleeves and plan for the end of your physical life! Not quite party time, is it? However, it is such an important responsibility to tackle. You may not want to party, but if you follow this guide and complete the easy steps, you will have peace of mind. This peace of mind carries over to your loved ones. Your decision to actively engage in end of life planning will greatly benefit the loved ones you leave behind. As regards them, this becomes a "don't leave a mess" guide. In most cases, they would much rather have you do it your way.
End of life planning should be dealt with at any adult age, but as we get older and "now, the end is near" - "My Way" - song lyric reference - the task becomes more pressing.
Unfortunately, just bearing the burden of the task alone probably takes years off of your life. It is stressful work if left undone or if it's left to the very last moments of your life.
However, it is necessary work and the sooner it is done, the better. End of life planning is like that gnawing chore that you didn't complete. It keeps you up at night.
- You know you have to do it. You know it's "the responsible thing to do".
- You don't want to leave the burden on your loved ones.
- You don't want things to go in a direction that you don't choose.
- You want to make certain that things are handled the way you want them to be handled.
Be responsible when it comes to your end of life planning. The burden that you will take off of your bereaved loved ones shoulders is priceless. They will be bringing extra flowers to your gravesite. They will thank you eternally for taking the burden of planning off of them.
Sober Work To Be Sure
Sober work to be sure, is sober work to be sure. Be sure of what is going to happen. Don't leave your final wishes and your final decisions up to chance or the kid that you never really got along with. You are an adult- make your own decisions.
We are old enough to know that every individual's life is unique. There will be things in this guide that may not relate to you or your lifestyle. However, we are sure you will find it to be a useful companion. Here's your prescription. Take the following end of life planning steps:
- Assess what you want to do - Really sit down and think about it. Discuss end of life planning with your loved ones. Gather and consider their input. Think about what you want. Consider how you want to divide and distribute assets. Think about the type of funeral you want. Give yourself a deadline - no pun intended - and thoroughly consider what needs to be done to make the end of your life go as smoothly as possible for you. This is about you and you should put yourself first. However, it is okay to consider your loved ones wishes, as well. They should not come before your own wishes. We make jokes about end of life planning to make a rough topic as light as possible - and so should you. Laugh as much as possible during your end of life planning. Laughter is the best medicine, so you will be putting the end off while planning for it all at the same time.
- Do research on how to go about it - How will you get your wishes accomplished? Will you need an attorney? Will you need some other professional? Are your desires possible?
- Put your wishes into action - Write it down and make it as plain as possible. If you don't understand it, no one else will. Don't make the mistake of waiting. It's important to follow through here to make certain your plans are going to occur. Yes, a wish list can help your loved ones make decisions, but without legal backing, your wishes may not be honored. This is not a time to half-way take care of a situation. Follow through and be sure your end of life planning is not in vain.
Told ya, it was easy. Those are the steps... Seriously, it's not nearly as easy as 123, but if you apply these steps to the end of life planning aspects, you will check through your list and get it done.
What Is End of Life Planning?
According to the National Library of Medicine's, National Center for Biotechnology Information, end of life or (EoL) planning consists of four major components:
- The completion of an advance directive or living will
- Selecting or appointing a person to have power of attorney for health care decisions
- Preparing and possessing a document for the distribution of assets (a will or trust)
- Outlining preferences for the type of healthcare you desire
These four aspects of end-of-life planning should be done while you are able to fully participate in decision making. Meaning you are of sound mind and body.
We will break down these components into separate sections for ease and convenience.
What Is A Living Will Or Advance Directive?
According to The MayoClinic.org, a living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive. These advance directives spell out your choices for doctors, types of care and caregivers once:
- You are seriously injured
- In a comatose state
- In the late stages of dementia
- Near the end of your physical life
Living Wills Are Not About Your Assets
When designing your living will, discuss with your family members and your medical team some of the following scenarios:
- Is dialysis a medical treatment you'd like to undergo? In short, dialysis is the mechanical removal of waste from the blood. It also manages fluid levels if your kidneys are not functioning or are functioning poorly.
- Would you want to use antibiotics or antiviral medication? Would you want to treat infections in an aggressive manner, or would you like them to go away without aggressive treatment?
- Palliative care or comfort care can be used while you are being otherwise treated. It can include; dying at home or hospice, whether or not you want pain medication, whether or not you want to be fed ice chips to manage dry mouth and lips. The avoidance of certain invasive tests or invasive treatments
- Your living will includes specifications for donation of your body for scientific reasons, as well as organ and tissue donation. The Mayo Clinic highlights that this particular part of your living will is complex, because if you opt to donate organs, you may have to be on life-support in order to have the procedure. You have to specify in your living will whether you are willing to be on life-support just for the donation of organs and tissues.
- Tube feeding is also documented in your living will. If you are unable to eat on your own, are you willing to have your body fed by tubes?
- Would you want to be on a mechanical ventilator if you are unable to breathe on your own? If so, how long would you be willing to be on a ventilator?
- Are you willing to receive CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation? Your living will includes your wishes.
A DNR or DNI Order Is the Following:
A "do not resuscitate" or DNR order is a document you can fill out at each hospital admittance. This information can be in your living will but it can be separate as well.
A DNI or "do not intubate" order has the same criteria. You can let your doctor know your preference for the DNI or DNR order and have it placed in your medical record.
Your state dictates how you can change these advanced directives or living wills. If you decide to make a change, you must create new copies, distribute them and destroy the old copies of the living will or advance directive.
Many states have their own form of advanced directive or living will. You may want to change yours if you have:
- A change of marital status - you may not want your ex anywhere near the plug of your life support system
- Review your documents every 10 years – The Mayo Clinic advises that your ideas on life-support and other life-sustaining treatment may change
- If you are diagnosed with a disease that is life-threatening or may significantly change your life, you may want to change your advanced directive or living will
Your doctor and healthcare team should always be a part of your planning process when it comes to these documents.
I Finally Got My Living Will In Order
When you have the advanced directive and or living will that you are comfortable with, you should:
- Have a wallet-sized card that indicates you have one, outlines who your healthcare proxy is and outlines where they can find a copy of your directive or living will
- Keep the original in a safe but accessible place for when you need it
- Make certain your doctor has a copy
- Make certain your health care proxy and your alternate healthcare proxies have a copy
- Maintain a record of who has your advanced directive and living will
- Make certain your family members are aware of your wishes. Having conversations while you are able bodied will make them feel better if you are ever incapacitated. They will already know what your wishes are and will feel better about making hard decisions if they know that's what you wanted.
APOLST or AMOLST is physician /provider orders for life-sustaining treatment and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment. Some states have these forms and they basically outline care wishes for people who have been diagnosed with a serious illness. It doesn't take the place of your living will or advanced directives. It ensures that in the event of an emergency that you receive the treatment you prefer. These documents stay with you if you are ever in a hospital or nursing home. They are portable and they are posted near your bedside.
Who will make my Health Care Decisions?
The Mayo Clinic goes on to describe and define what a medical or health care power of attorney is. This is a type of advanced directive, as well. You name a person to make health care and medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so, this person may be called a:
- Healthcare agent
- Healthcare attorney-in-fact
- Patient advocate
- Health care proxy
- Health care surrogate
- Healthcare representative
This is an important choice because this person should:
- Be trusted to advocate for you if there are disagreements with family members or medical staff about your care
- Should know what your wishes and values are and can be relied upon to make decisions that fall in line with them
- Is willing and able to openly talk to you about your end of life plan and your medical care
- This person is not your doctor or a part of your healthcare team
- This person meets your particular state's requirements for this role
This person can change according to need. For example, if you and your spouse are involved in the same incapacitating accident, you should have alternates, if you have chosen your spouse as your healthcare proxy.
Where Should I Go?
Making a decision to enter a nursing home is a conjoined one. You, the person that is caring for you, your family, and your medical team will make the decision. You can add your wishes to your advance directive or living well. However, this is a gray area. There is not a lot of information about it and it's hard to research the legality of entering a nursing home.
However, no one can force you into a nursing home. If you need to be there an alternative choice must not be available. There are many ways you can stay home with healthcare in place.
Read our guide on healthcare to get more information. You can also read our guide on residential options to gain more information on alternative places to live.
Money, Money, Money, Money - Handling Your Debt And Assets
Should I have life insurance? What to do with your home? What to do with your other valuable assets? Should you have a will? What is a living trust? These are all questions that you ask when you are preparing to complete end of life planning. When it comes to finances, it's important to receive all that you have coming to you.
That's where EASY Wireless comes in. This cellphone company wants to help you with this part of your financial life. EASY Wireless offers free cell phone and data service to eligible customers that qualify for the government Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) or Lifeline Program. This will definitely help you communicate with loved ones and make end of life planning that much easier.
Having a fixed income or a lower income does not mean you should avoid end of life planning. All the things you have acquired in life should be distributed where you want them to go. You should receive the healthcare that you want for your entire life, whether you have Medicaid or are a well-to-do self-payer, with premium health insurance, you deserve the benefit of making your own end of life planning decisions. Let EASY Wireless get you on board. Click the link to find out more about how you can qualify for their communication programs.
What Is A Last Will And Testament
According to law depot.com, this legal document outlines how your assets and properties will be distributed after you pass away. You can also outline custody and guardianship if you have surviving children. A last will can also help declare the following:
- Choice of an executor or the person who will help settle your estate and distribute your assets
- Plan for inheritances
- How to leave specific gifts
- What to do with the remaining debt
- Appoint a caretaker for any pets you leave behind
A lawyer should be involved in creating your last will and testament. However, you don't have to use one. You don't have to notarize the will either. Many websites offer free templates that you can use to help you write your will. States differ on validity. Check your specific state to learn how to go about creating a valid will. Some states declare you only need to sign it in front of two witnesses for it to be valid.
If you decide not to leave a valid will, the court will appoint an administrator to distribute your estate according to state law. The state you live in may obtain your property if you leave no will. Leaving a will can avoid confusion over your wishes.
A living trust also outlines how you want your assets distributed. Living trusts don't have to go through the probate process, which reduces time and cost when it comes to processing your wishes.
End of life planning ensures you do it your way!