Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Taking Control at End of Life

What happens when you get old? It's an annoying question, I know, but even more annoying when you don't have an answer.

That is why I was thrilled to see NY Times Blogger Paula Span, elder care expert, tackle this issue head on and write in detail about the importance and challenges of a having a health care proxy.
While you may be able to convince a trusted relative, lawyer, doctor, or nurse to be your proxy, they may not feel comfortable in that role, writes Span:

"Geriatric care managers seem a better fit; they’re comfortable in hospitals and nursing homes and charge lower hourly rates than lawyers. Karen Wasserman, director of Your Elder Experts, part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston, serves as surrogate for a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor with no family, and she’s starting to see healthy people in their 70s putting their paperwork together and asking her staff to take that role.
“I don’t see it as that big a leap,” Ms. Wasserman said. “Often, it’s continuing the work we do anyway, advocating for our clients,” whom the staff has often known for years. “It’s often an honor to be there for these people. It’s part of the deal.”

There are childfree folks out there that would, literally, rather die than relinquish control of their end of life decision-making and that poses another challenge. Are we ready as a society to let them make that choice, like Switzerland allows through the Exit organization? You tell me?

Photo credit: Flickr Photo by Flatbush Gardener

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