Cost of Dying: Discovering a Better Way

Posted on 01/09/2013

Daily DemocratWhile 82 percent of Californians say it is important to have end-of-life wishes in writing, only 23 percent of us have done so, according to a poll by the California HealthCare Foundation.

And that changes with you.

Newman, an 87-year-old double bypass survivor from Capitola, taught us it’s our responsibility to participate in decisions about our care and to delegate someone to represent us. Not only does he wear a DNR badge, he posted the same message on his refrigerator and shared it with his doctor and 10 children. Like him, we have a responsibility to speak up, before our voices weaken and fail.

You — not doctors, not nurses — are the expert on your wishes about end-of-life care. First, tell your loved ones. Secondly, appoint someone to act as your bedside advocate. Many new online resources can help you get started, such as The Conversation Project, advance care planning videos by the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, and advance care directive forms at www.mercurynews.com/cost-of-dying.

If you or your loved one is seriously ill, frail or very elderly, ask your doctor for a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) form. The bright pink form turns your treatment wishes into a medical order.

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