A Day with Dying With Dignity

Originally posted at allaboutestates.ca on June 10, 2015

I spent last Saturday which was a beautiful and sunny day, attending a workshop on Advanced Directives. An interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon, were the comments I received from family and friends. An Advance Care Directive (ACD) ‘is the document in which you make known your wishes for medical treatment or non-treatment. It only comes into effect if you are not able to speak for yourself.’

Upon reflection, I am sure that all of the participants would agree that spending a few hours to reflect and consider one’s own future life changing events and how we might want to be treated or not, was tremendously worthwhile. It was the beginning process of reflecting on your own personal values and the questions that need to be asked and decided. Personal values include sample questions such as:
‘What do you feel gives your life its purpose and meaning?
What do you particularly value about your physical or mental well-being:
-Do you most love to be outdoors?
-Are large family gatherings your happiest times?
-Do you prefer quiet time along listening to music or reading?

If you could plan today, what the last day of your life be like?
-Where would you be?
-What would you be doing?
-Who would be with you?’

The next part to consider are your own Medical Priorities. Sample questions to reflect upon include:

‘Which of the following do you fear most near the end of life?
-Being in pain
-Losing the ability to think
-Being a burden on loved ones

Imagine that you had a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and it had progressed to the p;oint where you could not recognize or have a conversation with your loved ones. When spoon-feeding was no longer possible, would you want to be fed by a tube into your stomach?
Yes          No               I am uncertain

If you were terminally ill with a condition that caused you much pain, would you want to be sedated even to the point of unconsciousness, if it were necessary to control your pain?
Yes            No             I am uncertain

There is a similar questionnaire to be given and completed to the person(s) you are considering naming as your Attorney for Personal Care as your Substitute Decision Maker to help determine how well they understand your wishes.

The other important reminder is that you can change your mind- at any time. Dying with Dignity recommends that at a minimum it be reviewed according to the Six Big D’s:
-Decade, death, divorce, diagnosis, deterioration and developments in medical treatments and technology.

Most importantly remember to write it down and communicate it with your POA and loved ones. For more information, please visit www.dyingwithdignitiy.ca


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