The Gift of Knowing Your Loved One’s Wishes
Dec 08, 2023
The holiday season is a time for family and friends, parties and get-togethers, travel and adventures. One thing no one ever wants to think about during the holiday season is accidents, medical emergencies, and end-of-life choices.
If something were to happen to you or someone close to you, do you know what their wishes are? Would they want all measures taken to save their life? Do they want CPR or to be intubated? If the choice had to be made, would they want their organs donated to another in need? While these are tough discussions, and no one wants to bring up illness, death, and dying during the holidays, this is an opportune time to discuss your wishes with others.
When an emergency occurs, medical professionals rush in and do all of the things they can to try and restore life and normalcy to the individual in the emergency. During these events, there is a rush of emotions: anger, fear, and the unknown. Decisions have to be made by loved ones if the individual is unable to speak on their own. If these conversations have not been written down and discussed before, it can put a great deal of added stress on those having to make those choices amid chaos and elevated emotions.
Why would you consider the holidays as the right time to have these family conversations? Having family together provides the opportunity to have these difficult discussions, ensuring everyone knows your wishes and is on the same page.
Kansas Legal Services (kansaslegalservices.org) has free resources to help you have these discussions with your family. It states the nine topics to discuss with your family include: your beliefs, health conditions, life-sustaining treatments you do or don’t want, how you view dying and death and hospice, donation of organs/tissues, funeral arrangements, documentation of your wishes, advanced directives, and who you want to be the spokesperson for your choices. If you go to the website listed above and search for Health Care Durable Power of Attorney, there are helpful information and documents to help you get started.
Speak with your primary care provider and your legal representative for additional guidance on choosing how you would like your affairs handled. Don’t let another holiday pass by without giving your family the gift of knowing your wishes and the knowledge to help them support your wishes.
Editorial Notes: This article was submitted for the "Weekend Check-Up," a regular health column in the Cowley CourierTraveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital. Cassie Stein, BSN, RN, EMT, William Newton Hospital emergency department manager, holds certifications in basic life support, advanced cardiovascular life support, trauma nursing, pediatric advanced life support, five levels of the incident command system, and is a strike team task force leader.