Completing my own Advance Directive—and Living to Tell the Tale Part 2 of 3 by Larry Beresford

As highlighted in Completing my own Advance Directive—and Living to Tell the Tale Part 1 of 3: In the end I went for the DPOA and named Rose as my agent, but it still felt incomplete. So I decided to write an addendum- an attached advisory outlining my values as best I could express them and what would be most important to me regarding medical treatments and decision-making. 

Reading it 13 years later, I can see the influence of my experience in hospice care, both as a writer and a patient care volunteer. I still feel the same way about these issues, so I can’t say the experience of planning for my death was a waste of time. Here are my nine values as I wrote them in 1998:
  1. To know the fullest and most complete truth about my medical condition and prospects.
  2. To have an opportunity to find peace, understanding and closure at the end of life.
  3. To receive all reasonable and appropriate comfort care measures when I am terminally ill, and to be kept clean, dry and warm.
  4. To NOT be maintained on ventilators or other physically invasive therapies unless they offered a reasonable chance of restoring me to a better state of health and functioning.
  5. To not be a severe, prolonged caregiving burden to my wife or family. If I become so, I would want them to consider alternative placement.
  6. Otherwise, I would like to be at home to the greatest extent feasible during a life-threatening illness.
  7. If I lose the ability to communicate or interact with and to recognize my loved ones (such as from advanced Alzheimer’s disease), I would not want medical measures to prolong my life, even antibiotics. But in the meantime, I would like full comfort measures and to be housed in a comfortable nursing facility with a rich activities program.
  8. I do not believe in and would not want euthanasia or assisted suicide, unless my suffering was obvious, extreme, relentless, long-lasting and untreatable. In that case, I would appeal to my family’s best judgment.
  9. Most of all, I want everyone involved in my care to be as honest and realistic and reasonable as they can be.
What instigated me to begin this journey of advance care planning at a young age and prior to personally experiencing serious illness? Find out in Completing my own Advance Directive—and Living to Tell the Tale Part 3 of 3. (Scheduled to be featured Friday March 11, 2011)

Please consider sharing your experience to help the public understand the importance of advance care planning.