Susan Jacoby struck a chord in my mind when explaining how she took “immense comfort” knowing her mother’s wishes to leave this world. During such a stressful time at end of life stages even a little comfort can make a tremendous difference. Irma Jacoby seemed to be an intelligent, matter of fact woman. She spared her family and herself as much stress as possible by having advanced directives and knowing exactly what she wanted. I believe it is our duty to take OUR life into our own hands for an assortment of reason. Living wills and advanced directives are significant tools that as Americans we fail to utilize. Our death denying culture feels inevitable or resistant to the fact that yes, we are all going to die. We need to take action and make Advanced Directives and even take that a step further. We need to make sure we communicate those wishes to a spouse or close loved one and be sure they know where important documents are stored.
Families have a significant role in a patient’s life, they carry out wishes when maybe someone is no longer competent or provide documentation of those wishes. A patient’s family knows that individual on a personal level and can navigate situations with medical staff as a team. I think questions to the medical staff or doctor should be welcomed as long as both parties are respectful and can come to an agreement. The scenario given in this article is traumatizing in the classic situation of two children arguing whether to take their Mother off of her life-sustaining respirator. In a time of such intense emotions a Mother wouldn’t want her children battling it out on what choice to make and what the medical team may or may not be suggesting. The cost of keeping her on the life support those extra weeks cost the family $20,000. Now of course there is no price on your parent’s life but the lack of preparation has emotional and financial implications.
The baby boomer generation is only getting older and the fact that technology is allowing people to live longer may lead to some complications. Our American society denies death and not everyone is as prepared as Irma. So are we to do with such an influx of end of life patients living off machines with no advanced directives? It is everyone’s job to inform our families and make time for preparation of our own lives because we all know how sudden life can change.