Sometime around New Year’s my grandma suffered a severe brain hemorrhage. No one is sure when it happened, she was found late Jan. 1st, but it had been a couple days before then since anyone had seen her….sadly I was going to visit her on the 29th or 30th but didn’t due to me being sick and not wanting to infect her.
Regardless, this unfortunately added to previous brain-damage from several previous strokes which triggered dementia. Leaving her in a coma, on a ventilator, and requiring a feeding tube.
But that isn’t exactly what this post is about…
You see, almost 10 years ago my grandpa had his leg amputated but never recovered from it. He went through a couple different nursing homes and many trips to the hospital. But was never there mentally. I think seeing this, caused my grandma to prepare instructions in her power of attorney papers should she become incapacitated.
Those instructions, commonly called a living will or advance health care directives, made the difficult choices ahead easier for our family. She did not want to have a feeding tube or be on a ventilator…nor did she wish to have heroics performed on her that would merely “prolong death.”
While these directions will not alleviate your family of all of the anguish of the decision, it will remove some of it and provide some comfort should you die while they follow your wishes.
Of course, all of this is with a sample size of 1 family so do what you feel is right for your family.
That said, I have some opinions on it….I think it is important to have the instructions in writing and have the instructions prepared with a knowledgeable lawyer. I believe my grandma’s was done at the same time that she revised her will, so the lawyer knew the types of questions to ask to cover many of the bases and not be vague.
In the case of instructions to your family for such severe cases, being vague would probably be worse than not having directions; the point of the directions is to make it easier for your family to follow your wishes and the side-effect is that it removes guilt…but if the directions are vague you are asking them to figure out your meaning and you could leave some lingering doubt that they did was what you wanted.
My grandma passed away on the 8th, a week after she was found on the floor….I am confident that we did what she wanted.