Joan Rivers’ death reinforces need to prepare
It’s perhaps the most difficult decision a person can make: deciding it is time to take a loved one off of life support. There’s an awful power in that responsibility. Once the directive is carried out, there is no going back, no do-over, no reprieve.
But as difficult as the decision is, it’s also one of the greatest acts of love a person can share with another.
Taking a loved one off of life support is played out privately countless times a day across the United States and around the world. Now imagine having to make that decision in the public eye. That’s what Melissa Rivers did when she decided to take her mother, comic legend Joan Rivers, 81, off life support on September 4.
Before her death, Joan Rivers named Melissa as her power of attorney to make medical decisions, Communities Digital News reports. It’s not currently known if Joan Rivers also had a living will or a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, but her death is a note of caution that your clients need to have these documents in order before these papers are needed. http://tinyurl.com/m9qvqwo
No such thing
Active and engaging, Joan Rivers went in for what’s described as a minor procedure on her vocal cords, CNN says. While on the operating table, she suffered cardiac and respiratory failure and was placed on life support. http://tinyurl.com/pusgebe
Her death is a reminder that there is no such thing as “minor” surgery. Opening up the human body — despite the advanced medical care and procedures used today — is inherently risky.
There are no guarantees, but there are ways for your clients to prepare for the unexpected. Their values will direct their decisions, and one of the most important decisions they make will be whether quality of life outweighs the quantity of life.
Just as your clients make their financial wishes known to their children, they also need to make their medical wishes clear as well.
Cover all your bases
First, the Mayo Clinic says, your clients should set up a medical or healthcare power of attorney. The person named can be a family member, a close friend, or a member of a faith community, whomever your client trusts. Your client should pick alternates in case the person can’t fulfill his role. http://tinyurl.com/mk3w6cb
Choosing someone to act as your healthcare agent is important because not all situations can be anticipated. This person should be trusted to follow your wished and values, Mayo Clinic says, and she should be your advocate if there are disagreements about care.
To make sure your clients’ wishes are known, a living will spells out exactly what they want. As the Mayo Clinic points out, it is a written, legal document that details what your clients would — and would not — want to keep them alive.
In that living will, your clients can detail their wishes on a number of fronts, including: resuscitation, ventilation, feeding tubes, dialysis, and antiviral or antibiotic medications. The more detail they give, the closer their wishes can be followed.
Another document your clients could have is a DNR. This document, Newsmax Health says, tells medical personnel that your clients don’t want them to try get their hearts beating again if it stops or is beating unevenly. Although these are often thought of as pertaining only to the elderly, they are useful in case of accidents or sudden-onset conditions. http://tinyurl.com/n8c9vh6
The DNR can also include directives that ambulance personnel are not to resuscitate your clients. There are also forms your clients can fill out if they don’t want CPR performed or if they do not want to be intubated.
Although death is inevitable, preparing for it can ease your clients’ and their family members’ minds when tough decisions have to be made. Our office is here to help clients navigate those decisions and create planning documents to ensure their wishes are carried out.
We hope this information was useful to you, your clients and their families. To get more information regarding this or any related topic, please visit our website www.TEPLG.com or call us at 630-871-8778.