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I was my dad's POA and health care proxy when he had terminal cancer in the 90's (I was in my early 20s). Now I'm caregiving for my 90 year old mother who we suspect has dementia (test this week should confirm that). Today while driving home from work because the home health aide called to say mom seems to have a stomach bug and I'd better get home, I was thinking about these two separate instances in my life of caring for my parents. After arriving home and helping to clean up the mess in the bathroom and get mom settled into her bed, I sat down and wrote out two letters. One to my husband and one to my kids. I told them that I hope to live a long, healthy life, but if something should go catastrophically wrong at any point and I am not able to care for myself, put me in the nursing home. Don't second guess it. Don't feel bad about it. We have the insurance. JUST DO IT. Thing is, I realized today that I've had a great life. Good marriage. Awesome kids. Great career. I've traveled outside the country. I've loved and laughed. Sure there's still things I want to do. I am after all still relatively young (my 40s). But overall, I've lived a satisfying life. I'm very blessed and I don't want the people I love to ever be limited by any deficiency of my body or mind. I don't want them to go through the stress I have as a caregiver - constantly feeling torn in different directions - frustrated, tired, overwhelmed. I love my little family more than anything in the world and they deserve better than the crap I've gone through as a caregiver myself. So, find a nice place for me - someplace with a garden view and come visit me. Tell me you love me and tell me about your day. But don't take on the burden of my failing body. All this has me wondering - Do you think I should get this into some kind of legal document, something more official than just a letter signed by me? I'm really dead serious about making sure they have these directives.

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Scout0421, it would be better if your wishes were placed in a legal document such as a "Medical Directive". Make an appointment to talk to an "Elder Law Attorney" about said document.

You are so right, caregiving can be frustrating, tiring, and overwhelming, and it can also do damage to your own body.
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Reply to freqflyer
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Hi Scout,

I agree with contacting an Elder Law attorney. If you don't have the money or the time you can always print off an power of attorney document online and have it notarized but sitting down with an Elder Law Attorney is the absolute best way to go.

I don't know if anyone else has seen this commercial, I saw it last week and thought finally! If you Google 5 Wishes it will take you to this website agingwithdignity.org/ where you can either fill out the form online or order copies of the document to be filled out at home. You can also Google 5 wishes pdf to see what the form looks like before you purchase it and if it covers what you're looking for.  I find some of the questions cumbersome and a bit wordy, like they are trying to cover everything and anything but it might be a good place to start for you to get an idea of what to talk to the attorney about.

I saw the commercial and thought THAT'S the kind of commercials we need in today's world, to get the word out because people still don't want to talk about it but it's so important to know. I feel like at the end of every pharmaceutical commercial they should say "please talk to your loved one's about what type of care you would like for yourself......"
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Reply to PaniniSandwich
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Yes, I would talk to an elder law attorney and have them draw up Advance Health Directive, POA and estate planning documents, and then be sure to update them periodically, as laws can change over the years. My husband and I need to do this for ourselves also. I am in my late 30s, he in his early 40s. I absolutely agree with you that I don't want my kids to have to worry about taking care of me when I get to that point. I too would rather go to a nursing home or assisted living when that time comes.

Also it's important to plan financially for the future as well, and have the means put into place for your wishes to be carried out should you be unable to make those decisions for yourself.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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PaniniSandwich, I just viewed the 5 Wishes, the sample copy, and was impressed with the "answers" and that one can cross out whatever answer they don't wish in the document. For those with an extremely tight budget, that document will let the rest of the family to know one's wishes, then having to guess or fight with each other about what the patient wanted. Thanks for posting that :)
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Reply to freqflyer
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This advanced directive speaks directly to dementia. I have filled it out and filed it with the wills and the POA papers.

dementia-directive.org/

So I'm pro planning. However, putting someone in a facility doesn't completely relieve you of caring for them. It just changes which burdens you bear.

We all have to accept that caring for those who cannot care for themselves is part of the human experience. We gladly care for the very young and we must care for the infirm and very old, too. You can arrange to pay for help to do the physical labor. However, you can't easily keep people who love you from caring for you when you can't care for yourself. Maybe you wouldn't even want to-for their sakes as well as your own.
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Reply to Marcia7321
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Tothill—I ask myself what is better, the way people would just drop dead when I was a kid or now when death is expensive, complicated, endless and psychologically destructive to patient and family.

I’m thinking it was better to just drop dead. I’d prefer it.
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Reply to HolidayEnd
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I also agree, you should consult an estate attorney. This was my MIL did when she was told to get her affairs in order. The trust attorney came to the house and she told him what she wanted. He created a living trust, a will, a durable POA and healthcare directives. It was an easy process and we knew who was in charge of what and how her assets were to be divided when she passed. Good luck!
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Reply to worriedinCali
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There is a pamphlet that you can fill out called "Five Wishes" and it is pretty detailed with instructions.
As a side note as a result of my being the primary caregiver for my Husband I purchased Long Term Care Insurance. I hope that it will not have to be put to use (if I am that lucky the money is not "lost" the beneficiaries listed in the policy will get the $$) But the house I am living in was built handicap accessible so I will be able to age in place and if I need caregivers they can come here. (That is if I do not move to a location where Medically Assisted Suicide is legal) I figure I do not want any of my family to have to care for me the way I cared for my Husband.
An Elder Care Attorney can help you with trusts and all the papers that are needed to make your life easier.
You need people you can trust to act in your best interest for Health and Finances. It does not have to be the same person.
Sign a P.O.L.S.T. that is more detailed than a D.N.R. it gives instructions and parameters that the D.N.R. doesn't. And the P.O.L.S.T. can always be changed if your circumstances change.
Both the POLST and the Five Wishes can be downloaded.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Scout, yes, do have your desires and wishes incorporated into a Living Will, Advanced Directive, or whatever it's called in your state. Tailor it to you needs. You might even want to discuss it with your family first. They may wish to contribute and/or offer suggestions on their own involvement.

But I would suggest considering an estate planning attorney; it's a broader concept than elder law, and you're still quite young yet. EP attorneys look at the entire spectrum of life, death and assets, regardless of age.

Either way, assistance by a qualified and reputable attorney, with whom you feel comfortable, would be better than a letter, which might not be considered valid if it's not witnessed or executed as a properly prepared legal directive would have to be.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Hi scout. This is about insurance for yourself and husband.

NO i do NOT sell it but i DO have it and cant telll you how glad i am !

Yes its expensive but certainly better than $100,000 or so youd end up paying out of pocket for each of you.

Im almost 80 and have had it since i was in my 50s when i first heard of it so it it should be cheaper for you.

It is a comfort to me to know that we can go from our house straight to assisted living or skilled. I have no interest in staying at home waiting for meals on wheels for our social life if we cant drive or get around.

We also have a trust and medical poas so my daughters dont have to worry about having to pull the plug. (My husband does not have children.)

Make sure theres something in paperwork about pain meds and comfort measues. Ive heard stories lately from people about facilitits denying those when people are no codes and dont want feeding tubes and/or ventilators.

Our insurance covers both assisted living and skilled.
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Reply to Betsysue2002
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