The other night I dined with my mother and 87-year-old neighbor. After a few cocktails we began to laugh about what our “after care” would be when we get sick. Yes, I said we. For what if I were to get sick before one of them? It could happen you know.
It could happen and guess who doesn’t have long-term health care? Moi. So while they will probably be in a decent home somewhere nearby, I will be in a county run facility an hour’s drive away. That or drooling in the garage.
Our neighbor is a stubborn lady. Missouri born, scotch drinking, tough lady with a kind heart. She hasn’t been to a doctor in probably 25 years if not longer. We’ve tried to get her to go to a doctor for a few things we’ve noticed lately but she refuses. Mom tried to convince her that at the very least go to the doctor so that they don’t have to do an autopsy when she kicks. I guess that is the law.
With a wave of her hand our neighbor began to talk about her chicken fried steak and how good it was. It was good, I will agree.
Betty White walked in with a friend and ordered a cocktail while she waited for her table. I looked around the bar area and saw a lot of elderly people, which always comforts me. But I began to think about all of my friends and how ill prepared we are for the future…which could be tomorrow.
I’ve friends who refuse the “conversation” just like my 87-year-old neighbor. But ignoring the inevitable does not make it go away. Most likely it just makes things more difficult for those you are leaving behind when you die or go into a vegetative state.
There I said it.
In Smell The Lavender Not The Strawberries I talked about how I would like to be cared for if I’m left unable to care for myself. Things like body lotion, music, television etc. But the list can be quite long if you think about it. If you have the cash perhaps there are certain kinds of sheets you would prefer? Food likes and dislikes? A favorite restaurant? Thats assuming there is someone around to care enough about you and your well-being. No family? How about someone you trust?
While I am close to my family and friends I am sure there are things I do not know about them. How about favorite toothpaste? Shampoo? My sister has an enormous collection of perfumes but which one is her favorite? These kinds of decisions are minor compared to the actual conversation of after care. If you want to be unplugged, is it written somewhere and signed by you? Because although your family may all be in agreement that you are not to be kept plugged in or given a tracheotomy, some do-gooder could be lurking and throw a wrench into the works.
Yes, some stranger could decide that you should keep living and then you will hear the click of lawyers heels sashaying down the hospital hall.
So get a pad of paper, a cup of tea or a cocktail, your nearest and dearest, and have the conversation. Just do it and stop procrastinating. Yes it is a very difficult conversation to have for some of us but it will be far less painful for everyone including yourself, when the time comes for the answers. You want those questions answered by those you love, not a stranger hoping for a payday.
- Should the elderly with dementia be given anti-psychotic drugs? (kevinmd.com)
- Sample MX Federal Legislation End-of-Life Document (lifeplanninginjalisco.wordpress.com)