After reading “Taking Responsibility for Death”, I believe that Americans do have some level of responsibility in planning for end-of-life issues regarding themselves. It would be very wise for Americans to make their wishes known concerning treatment and death while they are able to. From there, the individual who made his or her “plan” should discuss this with loved ones and healthcare providers. Having decisions like these made in advance can save families from heartache and frustration because they now know what a patient wants to happen to them. Families of patients with advanced directives should respect the decisions made in said documents, but at the same time, should be consulted when they are made. The patient’s healthcare providers should be informed of their advanced directives and respect the decisions made (provided they are legal, of course). If the providers give their patients service that isn’t patient-oriented, it will be difficult to understand what their patients are asking for. Family members should have conversations with healthcare providers, especially if their suggestions conflict with the wishes made in advanced directives. The focus on being prepared for death is for patients to be treated with dignity, respect, and autonomy instead of being taken advantage of by well-meaning family members that are ignorant of their loved one’s wishes, and healthcare serves that emphasize a profit over people.
It is going to happen to us all, so why is it so hard for us to face the facts and share our preferences? Everyone is going to die, and I think that we all have a responsibility to make our own decisions regarding end of life preferences. Like Susan Jacoby said, Americans love having the freedom to make their own decisions, but are so reluctant to actually make them, especially when it comes to end of life preferences.
Susan Jacoby’s article made me realize how important it is for people to share their preferences at end of life. What happens if you are dying, you cannot communicate with anyone, and no one knows your end of life preferences? There is going to be fights between family members, and more importantly, no one will know what you want. All Americans should have an advance directive of some sort. Americans should either have a living will, appoint a health care proxy, or even just tell family members what they want. The problem is that no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to be having a cup of coffee talking about their end of life preferences. Americans just put off the topic until it is too late to know.
Patients need to fulfill their end of life responsibilities before it actually happens. Before they go into the hospital, patients need to have an advance directive. That way, everyone is sure of what the patient wants. The patient needs to hopefully try to enjoy spending time with family at end of life. The role that the families play in end of life is being there for the patient. After knowing what the patient wants, the family should be there to make sure the patient’s wishes are carried out the way they wanted, even if it is hard for the family to accept the wishes. The patient is the family’s main priority. If everyone knows the patient’s wishes, then it will make the end of life process a little less stressful.
The healthcare provider is there to carry out the patient’s wishes. If the family or patient ever feel like they need to question the healthcare provider, then they need to go ahead and question away. If the healthcare provider is doing something that the patient or family feels is not right for the patient, then they should ask questions. The patient and family should never feel not knowledgeable enough to ask questions. It could be helpful if the family did research so they could be somewhat prepared when the doctor spoke.
Just like Susan Jacoby said in her article, “Without advance directives, even a loving child may be ignorant of her parent’s wishes”. This is so true on so many levels. I think many problems with end of life care would be solved if every American could just have an advance directive. The end of life process would be much less stressful for the family and the patient.