I was stopped in my tracks the other day while I walked past a nursing home. It was not the nursing home I work at so I did not know the person being wheeled to the ambulance, but I knew the look. The look of absent. The look of dying, not actively, but not living. When I see someone in that position, I feel for them, and I also hope I am never in that type of situation.
But I want to do more than hope, and I want to do more than just ‘feel for them’. The only good option at the moment is called a power of attorney for health care (sometimes known as a “Living Will”) in which a person can name someone to speak for them if they cannot speak for themselves, and allows them to indicate what level of medical intervention they favor. I recommend that everyone fill one out, no matter what age you are since accidents can happen, and keep a copy in your wallet. If anything ever happens to you, God forbid, at least your family will know what you would like. They won’t have to agonize about it, feel guilty wondering if they made the right choice, and it creates fewer opportunities for fighting amongst family members who disagree about what to do. So, don’t wait until illness comes upon you especially because some illnesses can progress so quickly that a person may be unable (due to cognition or being under the influence of major pain medication) to sign legal documents.