Good morning and welcome to another Wonky Word Wednesday. This morning I want to touch on something that many of you probably don’t know about me. Before I retired and began pursuing this writer’s journey, I was a nurse. For ten years, I worked in a nursing home, caring mostly for the elderly.
This week, there have been several Facebook friends with loved ones in the hospital facing illness, or impending death. I’ve experienced the pain of losing my father and deciding what heroic measures to take to save him. I’ve cared for and lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve held the hand of too many patients as they laid dying, without friend or family at their bedside. And I’ve watched families argue over keeping a terminal patient alive or letting them die with dignity.
So why am I bringing this up? As I mentioned above, several FB friends are facing these very things right now. I am a big advocate for making your wishes known, before you’re in a condition in which you’re unable to do so. Advance directives. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Is it necessary? I believe so.
A few years ago, I tried to have this conversation with my mother-in-law who didn’t want to talk about dying. She believed she’d die naturally, have a heart attack or stroke and die. This is what I told her. “But Mom, what if you don’t? What if you have that heart attack or stroke, and you don’t die, but your brain is damaged so much, you can’t live without mechanical assistance—ventilator, feeding tube? What if you can no longer eat, because you choke on everything, and it goes into your lungs? Is this how you want to live? Do you want your children arguing whether to put you on a machine or let you go peacefully?” Those decisions should not be made in a highly emotional state, which is when they’re made, if you don’t have your advance directives outlined. Anyway, my MIL still didn’t want to talk about it, but she completed her advanced directives on her own. So, I guess I made an impression. The point is, everyone needs advance directives.
The other thing, I’d like to mention is hospice care. Now I know many people believe hospice is just for those times when someone is on their death bed. This isn’t true. There are many diagnoses that qualify for hospice care, and in-home care or nursing home care. So, check with your local hospice, they can provide an aide to come to the house several times a week, a nurse, social services support, spiritual support, not only for the patient, but the family as well. If you’re struggling, as a caregiver, talk to a hospice provider about assistance.
I hope I’ve provided you with something to think about. Take the time to think about what you want and then act on it. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind.
Now, go and face your day. It’s waiting for you to make a difference.