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Honoring Choices: What We Don’t Want to Talk About But Need To

hospice1In honor of National Hospice Month, Ashley is sharing her experience on how to plan for life’s unexpected and having the conversation of honoring choices with your family.

I should start this blog by letting all of you know that I am not a mom, but I am the daughter of an absolutely amazing woman.  Growing up we had the conversations that needed to be had.  We shared the laughs, the tears, the heartbreaks – we could have those tough conversations when we needed to.

And one VERY important conversation that we had while I was growing up, even though it made me cry, was about what my mom, and my dad, wanted if they couldn’t speak for themselves.  No child wants to think about their parents passing away or getting into an accident and living on a ventilator; but stuff happens – that’s life.

We need to prepare to help our families in these scenarios.  Making life-saving, or life-ending decisions for your loved ones can add so much stress to an already emotional time and situation.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to give your family a gift?

hospice2When you’re younger this isn’t something that is easily or readily thought about.  We do not have a living will or trust because we do not have any assets to pass on if we should pass.  However, what we don’t tend to see is that an Advance Directive is an asset to your family.  An Advance Directive is a gift you can give your loved ones now.  If you aren’t quite sure what I am talking about, that is totally understandable – because this isn’t something we like talking about and this isn’t something we talk about often.

As a parent, we encourage you to have these conversations with your children.  They need to know what you would want, and you need to know what they would want – for treatment or care, if they are unable to speak for themselves.  By definition, an Advance Directive is a legal form that tells your loved ones exactly that, and you can have one at 18 years old.

To learn more about Advance Directives, click here and if you would like to review the Advance Directive form, click here. Another layer of the process is have a Notary Public make the document official. You can find at most banks if you do not know a notary personally. Click here to find notaries in your area. Saint Mary’s Hospice also offers Notary service and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about your Advance Directive, or to help you in any way possible.

hospice3I completed my Advance Directive a couple weeks ago. I chose to elect my brother as power of attorney in the event that I cannot speak for myself.

My mom is secondary and my dad is third.  In my advance directive, it states that, “If I am in a coma which my doctors have reasonably concluded is irreversible, I desire that life-sustaining or prolonging treatments not be used.”  It also says that, “I do not desire treatment to be provided and/or continued if the burdens of the treatment outweigh the expected benefits.  My attorney in fact is to consider the relief of suffering, the preservation or restoration of functioning, and the quality as well as the extent of the possible extension of my life”.

I know this is not always a comfortable conversation to have – but that doesn’t mean one should hold off on having this conversation with family. We believe that by not talking about death, we can make it disappear.  But not talking about it won’t make it go away and it doesn’t make death any less scary – not talking about death makes the end of life harder, not only on you, but on the people around you because they don’t know what you want at that stage in your life.  We need to have these conversations earlier so we can honor each other’s choices at the end of our lives.

So please do not wait to have these conversations with your families.  When you are ready, fill out an Advance Directive and give that gift to your loved ones.  Just don’t wait forever to do it. This is something we can do now.  My Advance Directive only took less than 15 minutes, with the notary involved.

Honoring your loved ones choices will make the process simpler, and allow your family to heal from their loss knowing you have preserved their choice.

This post is sponsored by Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center

Ashley Edvokimo is a Community Outreach Coordinator at Saint Mary’s Hospice and is currently an MBA student at the University of Nevada. She received her B.S. in Marketing from Dominican College, in New York as a student athlete, and received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Entrepreneurship at UNR the following year. Ashley loves to travel and experience new people and cultures. She has lived in New York and Florida – as well as being a Reno native.

Ashley is a very caring and passionate individual and she has recently starting working for Saint Mary’s Hospice.  She has a unique mixture of knowledge in different areas, and because of that, she has the ability to provide different viewpoints for family, coworkers, friends, and clients. Ashley is extremely driven and continues to try to inspire, help, and promote the people around her every day.

Ashley is the winner of The Road to TEDxUniversityofNevada, a student speaker competition organized by University of Nevada College of Business students.


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