Guest Blogger: Roy Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.
It’s summer time here. Where we drive more, go to the beach, vacation, and do things we don’t normally do. Which means we put ourselves at risk. And, I’ve asked you to prepare a living will. These documents were first created in the 60’s, but the Quinlan case (the one where the woman lasted in a vegetative state [almost] forever) drove the case home for a lot of folks.
But, that may not be enough. Even though about ¼ of us have done so, the documents we prepare may be just a little too simplistic. Technology is moving that quickly. (Read this post for some ideas.)
And, it’s driving the needs for new and better living wills. It’s driving the need to discuss these unpleasant thoughts with our loved ones, with the ones to whom we’ve left the terrible task of attempting to follow our wishes- which we may have failed to express to them. And, between these issues and the fact that harvesting organs is now being done differently that when I first signed on, I’ve chosen to designate a health-care agent.
We can’t expect our health care agents- or our loved ones- to know what it means when we say “pull the plug if we can’t have a meaningful quality of life”. We each have different definitions of that concept- and there is no universal definition upon which someone can rely. We really need to spell out which cognitive decline we can accept.
A good way to conceive of this situation is to examine the “Five Wishes” concept. It’s not free- but it’s well worth the nominal fee ($5) that it costs to answer the questions. The first two are actually legal documents (who is the healthcare agent, and what kinds of medical treatments will be acceptable). The others address comfort of care, where to be treated and who/how does so, and final wishes for one’s loved ones.
Of course, you can provide your designated health care agent simple instructions- if you doubt, don’t treat me is about as simple as it gets. But, I still vote for the document—it works in every state.
To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction. The Adjuvancy manages that change to the benefit of all the participants.
Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.
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