My husband had total knee joint replacement surgery last week. At several points along his pre-op processing, his immediate after surgery care, and so far as he met with the home health care nurse and physical therapist who are part of the joint replacement program, we were asked if he had a living will or medical power of attorney. We both do. And while we waited until we were near 50 to do so, I recommend that no one wait so long.
My brother was diagnosed with Acute Myeolitic Leukemia at 51. He did not have a living will or medical power of attorney. He also didn’t have a will. There was always one too many questions to answer to complete them.
Until he was finally able to open his eyes and move his head to indicate that he understood what people were saying, his beautiful wife was left unable to take care of all the non-medical issues that my brother usually handled — paying the bills, getting information about just how high the credit card balances were.
It isn’t easy to begin thinking or talking about end-of-life issues when you are in the midst of the glory of living. Aging With Dignity offers an easy way to begin the conversation with Five Wishes. The 12 pages pose questions in simple, not legal, language to help think about answers regarding who should act in my place and what extraordinary measures I would like that person and health care providers to take or not take in the event that I cannot express those wishes myself.
Every state has it’s own guidelines for what constitutes a medical power of attorney or living will. Five Wishes meets the requirements in 42 states and us useful in all 50 states.
It doesn’t take a lawyer to get the process started.