Well ahead of Jane’s deterioration due to Parkinson’s disease, her husband, Joe, and her only son, Paul, helped her establish legal documents regarding medical
decisions for end-of-life care (often called “medical directives” and/ or “medical durable power of attorney”). Both husband and son thought they had done sufficient planning to avoid family conflict and carry out Jane’s wishes. Joe was made the agent to act for his wife and make medical decisions when she could not. Unfortunately, their generic legal documents were not enough to prevent family trouble. Joe has certain faith-based values, but they are not the same values as his wife and son, Paul. When Joe was presented with the option to refuse a feeding tube for his wife, he did so. Paul immediately reacted negatively to this decision based on his perception of his mother’s end-of-life values. A serious conflict ensued between he and his father; even claiming his father was “murdering” his mother.
A generic legal document is often not enough when planning for medical decisions when incapacitated. End-of-life planning demands spiritual, legal and medical guidance from professionals who regularly assist families preparing for end-of-life planning. It should be flexible, and include:
1. Family communication before hand and throughout.
2. Instructions and details in your legal documents such as: the values you hold dear regarding end-of-life, a plan for praying together as a family, and ensuring final words may be made available.
Take the time now to make sure your planning is sufficient. Protect your family and the values you may hold most dear concerning end-of-life.
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