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Who Will Decide for You?

23 Sep

I started thinking about this post during the summer – when I first read that Nelson Mandela’s family was arguing over where he should be buried.This was when he was on life support after having been rushed to the hospital with a re-occurring lung infection.

The family was divided about whether he should be buried in the town of his birth or next to his children in another town. The news stories talked about exhumed bodies and a nasty, public court fight. How awful that things had gone this far.

LawReview102612_stortThen I  read about a British study from about 10 years ago that found that about 40% of hospitalized patients lacked the mental capacity to make decisions because they were unconscious, delirious, demented or otherwise cognitively impaired. So who makes decisions for these folks who can’t make them for themselves?

Another article crossed my e-mail inbox about advanced directives and how surrogates make decisions for those who haven’t specified their thoughts about end of life care. They fell into two categories – ‘patient-centered’ and ‘surrogate-centered.’  Wow – surrogates in the latter category thought about THEY would want in a similar situation.

Families are asked to make medical care or end of life decisions for those of us who don’t make our feelings known ahead of time and don’t have the capacity to do so. Children sometimes end up in mediation, trying to figure it all out for their parent. And that isn’t easy – especially since lots of emotions can be involved like guilt or differing values.

Wouldn’t it be better to decide for yourself?

Jeanette

P.S. After I wrote this post, I saw this article by Steve Kalas in the LV Review Journal which also hit home: Preparing your estate before you die is act of love

 

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