Letting Someone You Love Die: The Irony Behind a Living Will

When my mother died, she died in a hospital. Hospitalised with a malignant brain tumour on her brain stem that caused a stroke, she lived three days from her stroke until her death when we turned off life support. And when she died, we all gathered around her in the hospital room and sang “Amazing Grace” to her as she died. In those last few days, Mum was on a respirator and IV fluids, but she was fairly responsive when we spoke with her, squeezing our hands or nodding her head. In other words, she was dying, but still showed all the signs of living and being engaged with her surroundings. She couldn’t talk, but she definitely knew we were there, and every time I would lay next to her on the bed, she would nod her head up and down, and I knew she wanted me there. Taking her off life support seemed counter-intuitive and a difficult decision to make. But it wasn’t my decision. Mum had a living will. The summer before, my mother had taken a course in death and dying, the same year I took one on Living and Dying in Buddhist Cultures, and we had discussed in detail our thoughts on dying, death, and the ways in which people die. My mother had clear opinions on several aspects of death and dying, and strong opinions that people should be allowed to have as much control as possible about the circumstances of their dying. And it was with this in mind that she wrote her living will. It was so much easier said than done. When the...

Sweden’s care for its elderly population

The UK should take note of how things are done in Sweden when it comes to the provision of care to the elderly. What accounts for Sweden’s success in this area? Sweden considers what the patient wants. How? By asking them! Once they know what people want, they work together with the individual to make it happen. Flexibility is key here. Unlike in the UK where the system is horribly fragmented, in Sweden the health service and social care services talk to one another and coordinate. Want to get across what you want in case you are ever unable to do so? Make sure you create and register a Living Will with the UK Living Will Registry. Watch the video on this link for more on Sweden’s care for its elderly population: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-28654739...

Death can come suddenly,

but there are ways you can prepare far in advance to make things bearable for your family Death isn’t the best conversation starter. But, it could be the most important talk of your life. Prepare for death by creating a Living Will with the UK Living Will Registry. It might help your family avoid crisis. Further Reading...

Advance Decision honouring end of life choices

Ask people if they want a say in their medical care, and most would say “yes”. Yet statistics reveal that the overwhelming majority of people have not planned for serious illness or end-of-life care. You can communicate your wishes about future medical care through an advance decision. The document helps express those choices, identify preferences in medical care and ensure that those preferences will be honoured. Once you complete an advance decision, the document needs to be easily accessible. Further Reading...

Dementia sufferers on the rise

The number of patients with a recorded diagnosis of dementia has risen sharply by 62% over seven years in England. In 2013/14 there were 344,000 people in England who had received a diagnosis – up from 213,000 in 2006/7, the Health and Social Care Information Centre figures show. An ageing population is pushing up numbers who are living with Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions, but experts said that the size of the increase was also driven by payments given to GPs and hospitals for giving more people a diagnosis – but charities warn that half of sufferers are still undiagnosed. Jeremy Hunt described the new figures as “encouraging”. He said, “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as our population ages and it is our ambition to provide world leading dementia care and support. “That’s why we have committed to increasing diagnosis rates, raising awareness and doubling funding for research to £66 million by 2015.” Hilary Evans, spokesperson for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that the figures “give us some idea of the challenge” posed by dementia in England. There are around 800,000 people in the UK with a form of dementia, more than half having Alzheimer’s disease, and with estimates suggesting that one in three people over 65 will develop dementia, the importance of creating a Living Will and registering it with the UK Living Will Registry cannot be emphasised enough.   Further Reading http://www.onmedica.com/newsarticle.aspx?id=6ce248db-a755-40ef-ba66-b188db8fcc40 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/mental-health/article4162317.ece http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/dementia-diagnosis-rises-by-60-per-cent-in-7-years-9638727.html...