The Conversation: If Joan Rivers can do it, so can we!

October 19, 2014

It may feel like we spend a lot of time talking about end of life planning. We are becoming a lot more open and realistic about our options and so are making better, more specific plans, right? Not really….

A new report called “Dying in America” was released by the Institute of Medicine in September of this year. The report states that Americans are not getting what they wish at the end of their lives. Although the majority of people express the wish to die at home with medication available to keep them free from pain to the end they experience just the opposite.

We may be talking about how we want our lives to progress at the end but we aren’t putting it in writing, and even if we do the medical system is not set up to provide a person’s last wishes. The report discusses (among other things) the need for health care professionals to be trained to ask the right questions, be willing to talk to their patients about death and dying, and be less concerned about liability regarding treatment given.

So, what do we need to do? Start talking, and the sooner the better.

  • Talk to your family about your wishes.
  • Talk to a lawyer about the best way to get those wishes documented.
  • Get those Advance Directives in place. Those what???
  • Powers of Attorney
    • Durable Power of Attorney to manage financial affairs.
    • Power of Attorney for Health Care makes medical/health related decision on your behalf in the event you are unable. This document may also include “living will” provisions for end-of-life decisions as well as specific instructions, i.e. organ donation, etc.
  • Authorization regarding medical records enables certain people access to your health records. This is necessary due to HIPPA confidentiality regulations.
  •  Revocable and Irrevocable trusts allow for continues management and distribution of property according to specific terms set by you.

Joan Rivers spent a lot of her life talking about her death, granted most of the talk was to get a laugh. But she did walk the walk. When decisions needed to be made and she was unable to make them, her daughter knew just what to do.

Talking about what is important to us regarding end of life will help us make decisions that increase quality of life and, very possibly, decrease medical expenses.

Do you know enough about end of life care? Take the quiz:  http://resources.iom.edu/widgets/endoflife/quiz.html

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