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Where could we go that would explain in simple language the paperwork and the problems without it. He is terrified of being put into a nursing home. Has also refused for years to be an organ donor bc afraid he'll be killed in order to get them.

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This is a little off topic but relates.
I watched a program on PBS last night. I'll Have It My Way by Hattie Bryant. It is about creating a peaceful end of life experience. How not to die in an ICU.

It had four steps.
1. Accept that we are all going to die.
2. Understand the limits of medicine.
3. Educate yourself about healthcare choices
4. Choose a proxy and provide specific instructions.

Not your spouse or child was her recommendation.
Due to moral distress they may know what to do but can't bring themselves to do it. Make sure the person is young enough and healthy enough, can stand up to family to make sure you get what you want, can fire a physician if needed.She also said everyone should say who their proxy is and let it be known that person knows what you want.

A couple of the points she made were if you call 911 or go to the hospital you are giving permission to be treated. Your proxy may have to be there to keep you from getting more treatment than you want.

85% of people die after they are diagnosed and are no longer able to make decisions for themselves...so everyone needs a proxy that they trust to carry out THEIR wishes and not others ideas about what should happen.

"When someone is dying, there is no such thing as a functional family."

Get a palliative care evaluation the minute you get a serious diagnosis.Have your primary arrange. Usually you get the bad diagnosis from a specialist whose job it is to treat the disease so go back and discuss this with your primary who hopefully is more concerned about quality as well as quantity of life.

She reminded us of the article in the Saturday Evening Post entitled How Doctors Die. Its a good read.

So, not sure if this help at all. There is a book of course that you can pick up to see if any of her points resonate with your husband. Also a workbook was available on PBS. Not sure if the workbook is in bookstores or on Amazon.
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Brunswick, legal documents are complex, much of the wording is standardized for legal applications, and the documents are not easy to understand. Trusts especially are complicated and literally require an interpreter for some sections.

Your husband might be intimidated and afraid he won't be able to understand and doesn't want to be embarrassed. I think that's a common reaction.

This is something you should discuss with an attorney even before making an appointment. An attorney might be willing to prepare summaries, after explaining the purpose of the documents, the intent, and the major provisions.

You might want to begin slowly, with one or two documents such as medical and legal powers of attorney, then move to wills and perhaps the more complicated trusts, if they're appropriate for your situations.
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So sorry, my error, your husband, not your dad.

Is he still in rehab? How is that going?
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Brunswickborn, what type of paperwork are you referring? If you are using an Elder Law Attorney, which is highly recommended, for a Will or Power of Attorney, the attorney will do all the explaining. If the Attorney feels your hubby isn't understanding what is in these documents, then the Attorney will not let your husband sign them.

As for being an organ donor, that is a person choice, and chances are once you reach a certain age, many of the organs have too many miles on them to be used successfully, so don't bother hubby with that paperwork.

May I ask how old is your husband? Those who are in their 80's and older remember the "homes" from back from when maybe his parents or grandparents, or other relatives had to reside. Mainly these places were State homes or asylums, so no wonder he is scared to go to a nursing home. I would be, too.

If you foresee a nursing home in the future for hubby, if you can budget for Assisted Living [which are not nursing homes], take him to visit these places saying you are helping a friend look for places, and the friend wanted both of your opinions. These places offer a free lunch with a tour. Some places are set up like a hotel.
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Brunswick, it seems to me that if your dad doesn't understand the paperwork he's signing, then he shouldn't be signing anything. As in, he's no longer competent to sign anything of a legal and binding nature.

Are you attempting to have him assign power of attorney to you? Sadly, it may be too late for that. Guardianship may be the only alternative.
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