Due to the response from Society members to my Platform, End of Life Choices, I was asked to write a summary of the many useful resources that can be helpful to members, their families and friends. Here are my suggested references.
Most people who have a will will also have their lawyer craft a Living Will or Advance Directive, to indicate what procedures and other procedures they would want (or not want) if they cannot make decisions for themselves. Many often want to stay at home and not be taken to the hospital if they are near the end. Unfortunately, emergency service providers have standing orders to take people to the hospital if they are called and will ignore your Advance Directive, even if available.
To avoid this situation and have control of what you want, a more effective (and short) document has been created, called (in New Jersey) the Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Therapy (POLST). Both you and your MD or nurse practitioner must both sign this two-page form on the link below. Original and copies work just as well.
Compassion and Choices Website
A good resource for answering questions which you and family members may have about end of life care options is an organization called Compassion and Choices. This organization also has a 24-hour telephone hot-line available to provide a free end-of-life consultation. The number is: 800-247-7421.
One of the most important things in making sure your care is consistent with your values and wishes is to clarify what your preferences are. A very good tool for leading you through the process so you can have a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse, parents, children and/or proxy is found in the Starter Kit created by The Conversation Project.
The Conversation Project
There are also two special situations that require a special approach to developing a Living Will. The first is dealing with adolescents who are capable and interested in being part of their own end-of-life decision-making when they have a life-limiting condition. Voicing My Choices is very helpful to guide this process.
Alzheimer’s and other Dementia Living Will
The second one is in the early stages of dementia, when there is still time to stipulate one’s detailed wishes. Since Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have such a varied course and many behavioral and psychological manifestations, a Living Will to address these can be useful. One such tool is listed below along with a two-page brochure.
Dr. Richard Bernstein