TALKING ABOUT IT DOESN'T MAKE IT HAPPEN . . . . . . .

Perhaps you read the article in the Star Tribune of April 23, 2017 by Gail Rosenblum
“Tackling a once taboo topic.” It is the first in a series of three articles addressing end of life issues, with information on how people are approaching this topic in today's information climate. Let me suggest you read this series of articles.

Every major healthcare provider group in Minnesota has encouraged such preparation of documents over the past five or six years. Perhaps you noticed the promotion on Twin Cities Public television around Thanksgiving and Christmas, called “The Convenings.” This program was hosted by Cathy Wurzer, describing how to conduct this sort of discussion with families, as we generally gather (convene) at holiday time. Certain individuals have said “I leave all that up to my doctor, I trust him/her totally.” Except, be mindful that the physician's practice is focused on cure and healing . . . in almost all circumstances. Additional resources for information may be a medical social worker at your healthcare clinic who is equipped to navigate the options for care on your behalf. An attorney and/or a financial advisor may also assist in creating such end of life documents, as well the legal aspects of property and finance. Pastors and parish nurse may also be good resources on how and when to prepare spiritually and physically for the end of life.

There is a broad spectrum of circumstances that may prompt discussions with those closest to you. While many assume this is a topic of conversation for later in life, there are those who have chosen to be proactive at a younger age due to frequent extensive travel in parts of the world with different medical services available. There are those who enjoy sports that present a degree of risk of serious injury who wish to plan for the “what if” circumstances. Motor vehicle accidents can involve much traumatic injury, which is more common in young adults. Morbid? Perhaps so, but consider creating a legal document that clarifies personal wishes. If the person who is injured is a minor, there may be questions of role of custodial and non-custodial parents; for individuals who are single with no next of kin nearby, it is recommended to appoint an agent for end of life decisions; furthermore, if one's next of kin is unable to make decisions, it is recommended that a trusted friend be identified to make legal decisions.

Talking about it does not make it happen. Talking about it does give everyone an opportunity to discuss healthcare options, quality of life, and other things that are important to you. This brings up the question of whether these decisions can be changed over time. Yes, they can. The documents related to end of life decisions are signed and notarized. It is recommended that these documents be amended and changed when either you or your designated agent for medical decisions experiences a new diagnosis or change in status of a chronic condition, if there is a divorce in the family that would impact which family members can speak for you, if an agent should pass away or even move a great distance away, or when there is a significan health or social status change for you or your designated agent.

There is no cost to you for completing these documents that are available from your healthcare clinic or online at www.honoringchoices.org. It is recommended that you provide a copy to your physician to have them included into your medical records. Copies should also be provided for your agent, for your immediate family, and perhaps for your attorney.

Because of the close relationship between Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and Fairview Healthcare, there is initial and ongoing training for our parish nurse at Fairview. The information and forms are standardized for all healthcare providers and recommended by the MN Department of Health. There are many other resources to assist in making these decisions; MN Agency on Aging has an extensive roster of information: 800-333-2433. It is recommended that this discussion, and these decisions, be made well in advance of a health crisis. . . .as the title here says “talking about it doesn't make it happen.”