Tag Archives: end-of-life care

Planning for All Stages of Life

Vantage Point: Tackling the Tough Subjects

My Mom tries to have this conversation with me that starts, “Shannon, if something bad happens…”

I usually cut her off. “Mom I am not ready to talk about this yet; we have time.”

The truth is if something unforeseen happens, I am not clear on her wishes.

There are many reasons any of us may need help with caring for our personal, financial, and health needs. The most common are part of the aging process. Estate planning, durable power of attorney, trustees, living wills, and guardianship all sound daunting, but their true purpose is to find the best means to care for those in need. This is possible by planning ahead now.

A health care durable power of attorney can be any person 18 or older who you trust to make health care decisions for you.  Anyone taking on the role of power of attorney, trustee, or guardian (whether they be a family member, a professional, or court-appointed) should be a good communicator and have the loyalty and commitment to follow your wishes to the best of their ability.

An estate planner can help you and those close to you understand important information, but can be expensive. Aging and Adult Care offices of Central Washington has a living will kit called “Five Wishes,” which is a legal way to document who you want to take care of you, what kind of medical treatment you want, how comfortable you want to be, how you want to be treated, and what you want your loved ones to know. That is a great option for making your wishes known.

At Health Alliance Medicare, we work hard to try to take good care of our member’s physical and mental health to ensure they have the most graceful golden years possible.  We also encourage you to think ahead to make future health care decisions that are in your best interest. This includes tackling the tough subjects, such as end of life care.  From what I have learned the topic, though hard to discuss, is too important put off.

I am going to start by asking, “Mom, just in case something bad happens…what are your wishes?”

Honoring a Veteran

Vantage Point: Serving Those Who Served Us

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.  – John F. Kennedy

I have three sons who served in the armed services, one who is still an active-duty Marine. Every word of that quote means a tremendous amount to my family. We understand how the rigors, values and experiences of serving in the military shape a life. What I did not realize—until talking with Patti Strawn, RN, CHPN, of Central Washington Home Health and Hospice—was how that service influences how a veteran faces serious illness and the end of life.

There are currently 22 million U.S. veterans, and 1 of every 4 people who dies is a veteran. 20% of Confluence Health hospice patients are veterans, and understanding how to care for them seems the least we can do to repay them for their service.

A friend is a Vietnam vet, and even when going out for dinner he always chooses a seat facing the room and an exit. Many veterans cannot stand the thought of laying flat, and for some it takes a long time just to get into bed because of feelings of being trapped or confined.

Imagine that person in a nursing home, hospital, or hospice situation.

Each veteran’s needs are unique and can be influenced by a number of factors, like which war they fought in, rank, branch, enlisted or drafted, prisoner of war and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For some veterans, the pride of serving their country is a source of comfort at the end of life. For others, hard memories may bring up pain, emotional issues, and the need for forgiveness. The military culture of stoicism, “big boys don’t cry” and guilt for making it back when others did not can also present hurdles—especially when the inability to express those long-hidden feelings prevents a peaceful passing.

It is never too late to welcome a hero home. In celebration of Memorial Day, Health Alliance Medicare encourages you to honor veterans still with us by acknowledging their brave and selfless service, and by encouraging them to register with their local Veterans Affairs (VA) office. The VA works to make sure every single veteran has compassionate end-of-life care.

Visit WeHonorVeterans.org for additional information or resources.