In an interview with Nancy Snyderman, M.D., an American physician and broadcast journalist, she made the following comments: “Let us be really brutal. To me, caregiving is about quality of life as much as it is about length of life. And it is about letting the person who is being cared for have a piece of the decision-making when possible. Life with dignity and death with dignity are two things that we do not talk enough about.”
Before you even get to the doctor—and this is where American families, I think, have a real difficult time—you need to have the hard discussions with everyone that is healthy. I knew what my parents wanted at their funerals and what they wanted with regard to ICU care years ago. So when my father became very ill this last fall, I invited him to be part of the decision-making; but I knew absolutely when to put on the brakes. Too often there is a crisis. Everybody flies in and everybody goes, “Oh, no, Mom told me blah, blah,” or “That is not what she told me.” And then there is a row. So those conversations have to be had early. And then I think it makes the crisis easier to handle. It is not that it is going to be a cakewalk. But at least you will know the intention of the person you are taking care of. And for me, that has given me great solace as I have made really important decisions. The other thing is, we talk so much about medicine, but we forget the legality issues.
Sign those HIPPA papers so the doctors can talk to somebody in the family and share information. Figure out who is going to be the executor and get the legal stuff done so that somebody can make sure the trains run on time. You do not want that left to a stranger.”
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