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Director's Message

The End of the Journey May 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

 

As I sit to write this month, the news is filled with the deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul. These very public events brought the subject of death into print and conversations, something otherwise quite rare. 

 

I want to encourage you to take this opening and push it a bit further. Talk with your loved ones about death. This is probably the hardest conversation to have. Research shows that Americans are more likely to talk to their children about safe sex and drugs than end-of-life issues. It is as if we believe that not talking about it will keep it from happening—but it will, to all of us. We plan for weddings, for college, for retirement, but we can’t bring ourselves to talk about how we want to be cared for at the end of life.

 

Does your family know what you want? Terri Schiavo was not able to tell her family after she lost consciousness. Pope John Paul is said to have been conscious and involved in the decisions made in his final days. The time to talk is NOW. Use the news or events happening to people you know to open the subject and stick with it through the discomfort. Share your values, ethics and preferences. Do not leave it to your family to guess when they are scared, grieving, and trying to advocate for you with the health care system. Do not create a situation where this becomes a painfully divisive issue between family members.

 

The reality is that death is often not a single either/or question such as “do we remove a feeding tube”, but a series of incremental questions about antibiotics, IV fluids, medications and interventions. Families have to weigh questions of whether continuing care causes suffering, whether they are giving up too soon, how hard to pursue other options. A living will (or “Will to Live”, as some are writing) can guide your family, but can’t anticipate every question they will face. The more detail you provide, the more helpful a guide it can be. 

 

These issues get more complex every year. As medical technology improves, the decisions get more complex. There is also more likelihood of staying alive after a major health event such as a stroke or heart attack. It is likely that you will need more care, at greater expense to your family, or to Medicaid, which all Americans pay for. Long term care insurance can address some of these costs for some period of time, but many people do not have it, can not afford it, or do not qualify for it. Families will not be able to avoid the financial implications of their decisions.

 

If you wrote an advance directive several years ago, it would be a good idea to review it and to complete a new one. The forms were changed after the HIPPA law was passed, and also reflect the growing complexity of end-of-life decisions.

 

So, please, have these conversations now. Write an Advance Directive and appoint a Power of Attorney. Give a copy to your doctors and your family. You can also post it at a national website. For more information go to, abanet.org/aging/toolkit, myhealthdirective.com, caringinfo.org and uslivingwillregistry.com. If you want to know more about the Will to Live, go to the National Right to Life Committee at nrlc.org. If you want a referral to an elderlaw attorney, call PSRC or go to naela.org. 

 

Susan W. Hoskins LCSW

Previous Messages

Cues & Clues

Recharging

GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!

Multi-generational Households

No One Ages Well Alone

Help at Home

Gratitude

November 2016 Family Caregiving

October 2016 Annual Report

September 2016 Corporate Healthcare

Strategic Planning

Is Your Home Age- Friendly?

May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help

May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo

April 2016 - Volunteering

March 2016 - Partners In Caring

February 2016 - PSRC's Strategic Plan

January 2016 - Hope

December 2015 - Gratitude

November 2015 - Helicopter Children

October 2015 - Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?

September 2015 - Annual Report

July & August 2015 - Family and Community

June 2015 - A Gift that Keeps Giving

May 2015 60 Is the New 60

April 2015 - Spring

March 2015 - Being Mortal

February 2015 - Mentoring

January 2015 - Winter Blues

December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy

October 2014 An Age Friendly Future

September 2014 Annual Report

July - August 2014

June 2014 - Romance After 50

May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

March 2014 - Aging in Community

Observational Stay

February 2014 - Family Caregiving

January 2014 - Attitudes about Aging

December 2013 - Giving

November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace

October 2013 - Annual Report 2013

September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair

July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me

June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities

May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape

April 2013 - Becoming Visible

March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions

February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton

January 2013 - Men as Caregivers

December 2012 - The Safety Net

November 2012 - Going Solo

October 2012 - Documenting Your History

September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation

July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving

June 2012 - Diversity

May 2012- Aging in America

APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS

March 2012 - Patient-centered Care

February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?

January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities

December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?

November - We need YOU!

October - Chocolate for Memory

September- Looking Back and Looking Forward

July - August 2011; Ageism

June 2011 - Accessibility

May 2011 - Paper retention

Knit Wits, April 2011

Lessons and Legacies, March 2011

Independent Living February 2011

Home Safety January 2011

Witness to my Life December 2010

Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010

Retire in 3D!

Strategic Planning September 2010

Am I Old? July 2010

Memory Clutter June 2010

Aging In America May 2010

Volunteering April 2010

Spirituality March 2010

Estate Planning February 2010

Encore Careers January 2010

Hiring Home Care December 2009

Annual Giving by Sharon Naeole November 2009

Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009

Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind September 2009

A Personal Perspective on Caregiving July/August 2009

TRANSPORTATION May 2009

Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity April 2009

Write your own obituary March 2009

Hobbies February 2009

Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
January 2009

Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look! December 2008

Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008

Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning October 2008

September 2008 Caregiver Dilemmas

Finding Rhythm and Purpose July/August 2008

Spring Cleaning II June 2008

V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008

Spring Cleaning April 2008

Have You Had the Talk Yet? March 2008

Get Moving with FitRhythms™! February 2008

My Condolences January 2008

Advocacy December 2007

What Are Social Services? November 2007

Sensitive Topics October 2007

Plan for the Future September 2007

The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007

Volunteering June 2007

Strategic Plan May 2007

National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007

Brain Health March 2007

Resiliency February 2007

Transportation January 2007

Season of Giving December 2006

Medicare Part D November 2006

April Hill McElroy October 2006

Civic Engagement September 2006

Change June 2006

White House Conference on Aging May 2006

Hearing Loss April 2006

GrandPals March 2006

Lets Talk February 2006

Eldertopia January 2006

Hoarding December 2005

Annual Report: November 2005

Are You Prepared? October 2005

Planning Ahead October 2005

Watch Your Language September 2005

Medicare Part D Summer 2005

Sue Tillett June 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

Clutter March 2005

New Dietary Guidelines February 2005

Transitions January 2005

Funding December 2004

Caregiving November 2004

Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004

A New Look September 2004

Safe Driving Summer 2004

Food Safety June 2004

Communication June 2004

The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004

Seniors On The Move April 2004

Depression March 2004

McGreevey February 2004

Medications January 2004

Random Acts of Kindness December 2003

Civic Engagement November 2003

Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003

Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003


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