End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts Taggedend of life wishes

Vancouver woman starts nonprofit to assist with end-of-life contact information, wishes

By Special to The Oregonian
The Oregonian
August 15, 2012

She was supposed to pick him up at the airport for Thanksgiving; instead, the postman delivered his ashes to her doorstep.

On Nov. 3, 2008, the father of Vancouver resident Dorothy Rodriguez-Anderson died alone in a Sacramento-area hospital because his wallet and emergency contact information had been locked up upon his admission to the hospital.

Several weeks later, she came home to find his ashes in a box on her entertainment center. “I just held onto the box and cried and cried,” recalls Rodriguez-Anderson, 47.

She had found out about her father’s death after his neighbor gained entrance to his apartment and found her phone number. Upon trying to get answers from the hospital, “they kept telling me they couldn’t check his wallet if I wasn’t there,” she says. “How are you supposed to be there if they don’t call you?”

Six months after her father’s death, the president of the hospital called Rodriguez-Anderson to express his regrets and apologize after he was notified of her situation. That night, she had a dream in which her father visited her and encouraged her to help sick and dying people get in touch with loved ones. When she woke up, she rushed to her laptop and started buying domain names for what would become her online registry service. More

Personal Decisions Matter at End Of Life

The Republican
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When family members take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one nearing the end of life or are called upon to make health-care decisions on behalf of their loved one because he or she is unable to speak, suddenly the enormity of this responsibility looms large.

What would my loved one want? Do we continue with yet another medical treatment?

Do we withhold high-tech life support? Do we want intensive medical interventions that may prolong suffering?

How far do we go? How do we assure quality of life as the end nears?

Of primary concern is the question, “How do we honor those we love, respecting the dignity of their values and preferences for life care?”

As an individual, your decisions matter. This is especially true when it comes time to examine how you plan and prepare your health-care and quality-of-life decisions as they communicate your wishes for end-of-life treatment.

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of Americans say they would rather die at home, surrounded by family members? Yet in Massachusetts this expectation is reversed; 70 percent die in nursing homes or in hospitals, often spending their last days hooked up to high-tech life support machines. Fewer than 25 percent die at home.

Recently, family members caring for their dying mother at home related how grateful they were because their mother had made her wishes known and clearly communicated what she desired and wanted.

“She made it easy for us because all we have to do is follow what she wanted,” they said.

This reality does not remove the gamut of emotions that accompany them as they tend to their mother. But it does remove the struggle of having to decide on their own without the assurance their decision would in fact really be what their mother wanted.

They do not have to worry about the guilt, remorse or uncertainty that comes when loving guidance is not clearly communicated.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor. Be willing to enter into conversations about what health-care choices you would desire if you were unable to speak for yourself. Convey your wishes through an advance directive. Advance directives enable others to know in advance what your choices are.

A “health-care proxy” documents the person you select to be your voice when you cannot speak for yourself.

A “living will” documents what kind of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

Quaboag Valley Hospice is available to offer assistance by providing literature and tools to assist with thoughtful reflection on health care choices. They are also available for group presentations and additional information as needed. They may be reached at (413) 283-9715.

Most importantly, remember and affirm that your decision matters. Take the time to reflect on what you desire for your health care and what quality of life means for you. Then offer your gift of love by adequately communicating your choices so your wishes and life may be fully honored.

The Rev. Domenic K. Ciannella, an Episcopal priest, is hospice chaplain with Quaboag Valley Hospice of Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer. He is also certified as a grief recovery specialist and is well versed in crisis intervention and pastoral care.