The National Hospice Association reports that "one in four Americans over the age of 45 say they would not bring up issues related to their parents' death — even if the parent had a terminal illness and less than six months to live."
But ongoing legal fights over Terri Schiavo, 39, who is in a persistent vegetative state, have become " Exhibit A" about the need for families to discuss and sign advance directives indicating their wishes for medical care.
Schiavo's feeding tube has been removed and reconnected twice, in 2001 and Oct. 15, as her husband and parents fight over her care, which now involves Florida's courts, governor and legislature. Schiavo had no living will or other advance directives.
Living wills state preferences and instructions about medical treatment should people become unable to decide for themselves. The durable power of attorney for health care allows a person to name a decision maker (November, page 14).
For information about such advance directives, contact your attorney (state laws differ) or go to www.partnershipforcaring.org (800-989-9455) or www.agingwithdignity.org.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers