Plan ahead to make sure you get the care that you want

Do you know what advance care planning is? You should. Advance care planning is when you or a loved one writes down your wishes and instructions for future health care. Basically, it’s a living will built around one’s beliefs, values, and wishes. Advance care planning allows someone to express fully and thoughtfully their wishes for future health decisions. Why is this so important? We see it all the time where people don’t have advance care planning in place and it makes it so difficult. Difficult on their family most of all. How is someone supposed to make a potential life or death decision about a loved one? It’s too tough. Sometimes it’s not done because people are afraid to talk about their future health and mortality. Yet, it’s something we will all go through. Health challenges and eventually death. It’s very healthy to talk about! We can’t be afraid to. We must have these discussions with our loved ones and friends. There are a few primary tools to work with here. Advance care planning may include any or all of these tools:  A Power of Attorney where you appoint someone to make decisions about your financial affairs, business and property – even if you become incapacitated.  A Living Will (also known as an Advance Decision or Advance Directive) with your instructions for health and personal care in the case that you become incapacitated, which can then be registered with us at the UK Living Will Registry so that it can be easily accessed by medical professionals if it is ever needed. It may be best to speak...

Heart surgery patients should make end of life plans

Patients undergoing heart surgery ought to create a Living Will beforehand, to guide their care in the event that they can no longer articulate their wishes. Patients undergoing complicated and risky treatments, such as aortic valve replacement, are at a considerable risk of death or suffering other complications related to the surgery, such as stroke and heart rhythm problems. In fact, recent studies suggest about a third of people who undergo such a procedure will die during the two years after surgery. The high death rate suggests many people will have to face up to difficult decisions following the procedure. A Living Will should be an integral part of such advance planning. In addition to ensuring patients receive care that’s in line with their wishes, a Living Will reduces the burden on family members who would otherwise make those decisions. Medical professionals should do more to make patients undergoing any type of surgery, but in particular surgery with a high likelihood of complications, aware of Advance Decisions and Living Wills, and should encourage them to register their own Living Will with the UK Living Will Registry. Further Reading: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/05/us-advance-directive-heart-surgery-idUKKBN0G526620140805 http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/29/us-advance-directives-health-idUSKBN0FY1VV20140729 If you don’t have an advance directive, the UK Living Will Registry urges you to get started today. A well written Advance Directive, like the one we provide, can ease the burden on your family and ensure that you spend your final days in the dignity of your own choosing. We also highly recommend that you go one step further and register your Advance Decision with us. We are the only national registry of Advance Decisions and Living Wills...

Get an Advance Decision today, before it’s too late

This moving end-of-life story of an 84 year old Korean War veteran in the US reminds us why it is so important to create an Advance Decision, and have it registered at the UK Living Will Registry so that people know about it and can access it easily. If Ken had discussed crucial issues before arriving on his deathbed; if he had taken the time to document his wishes in an Advance Directive, then he may have avoided the painful, degrading and undignified delay of his death. Read more: http://www.baxterbulletin.com/story/life/faith/2014/08/08/too-late/13796867/ If you don’t have an advance directive, the UK Living Will Registry urges you to get started today. A well written Advance Directive, like the one we provide, can ease the burden on your family and ensure that you spend your final days in the dignity of your own choosing. We also highly recommend that you go one step further and register your Advance Decision with us. We are the only national registry of Advance Decisions and Living Wills in the UK, and the registration is an incredibly quick, simple and inexpensive process.  This is the only way you can ensure that all relevant parties are aware of your wishes should you become mentally or physically incapacitated, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day or night....

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...

Elderly should be allowed to die, says leading cardiologist

Hospitals should let more elderly people die to help society accept that we are all mortal, a doctor has said. James Beattie, a cardiologist, said that hospitals try to resuscitate too many people who had little chance of recovering because people had not come to terms with death. “If a person is in hospital, particularly an elderly person, with multiple comorbidities [conditions or diseases], if they have a cardiac arrest it’s a sign they are of decline,” Dr Beattie told BBC Radio 4. “It’s their act of dying and they should not be resuscitated, they should be allowed to die.” Interestingly, Dr Beattie contends that society is no longer “familiar with death”: “Our great-grandparents and to some extent our grandparents grew up with people dying before the days of antibiotics,” he said. “People died at home.” That’s denied these days because of advancements in medicine which mean people are living longer, but not necessarily with a quality of life. “Death is now becoming something that largely happens in hospitals and care homes, somewhere removed from the family and the home. We need to make it a more natural expectation. Life is 100 per cent mortality and we need to get used to that.” The chance of an elderly patient going home after being resuscitated is only about 5 per cent, leading to many unnecessarily uncomfortable deaths. The elderly and frail are subjected to a barrage of tests and treatments which might keep them alive a little longer but do little for their quality of life, Dr Beattie said. However, he added that it was difficult for doctors to make...

Britons have shortest retirement of any major EU country

British workers have shortest retirements in any major EU country despite significant improvements in life expectancy, a new international study shows. French women lead the developed world in retirement with an average of 27.4 years still to live after stopping work – more than five years longer than those in the UK owing both to earlier retirement and longer lifespan. Although French men now live less long overall than their British counterparts, they still have almost three and a half years more retirement because they leave the workforce earlier. Britons are also able to enjoy less time retired than their counterparts in Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark, according to the study by the OECD, the club of the world’s most advanced industrial nations. Among non-EU members states in the OECD, British workers also have shorter retirements than those in Australia Canada and Switzerland but, significantly, not the United...

What Baby Boomers Retirement Means For the U.S. Economy

<b>The retirement of the baby boomers generation is imminent. Retirees are no longer part of the workforce, do not spend as much as other age groups, and are much more likely to be dependent on the support of others. Every month, more than 250,000 Americans turn 65, and as their share of the population increases over the coming decades, profound economic consequences are likely.</b> <b>About 17% of baby boomers now report that they are retired, up from 10% in 2010, and over the past year the labour participation for older Americans – those over 55 – has fallen dramatically, stimulated by the rebound in the stock market and their retirement savings.</b> <b>Nearly a quarter of Americans were born during an 18 year post-war period between 1946 and 1964, and so as more and more of this generation reaches retirement age, the labour participation rate is likely to plummet. This is inevitable, and nothing is likely to stop it.</b> <b>Fewer workers will mean less economic growth. By 2030, the Census Bureau estimates that the US dependency ratio will be 75, and a greater dependency ratio translates to fewer working-age people to support the economy.</b> <b>If things look bad for the US, they only look worse for many other developed countries in the world. The demographics of Japan, Germany, France and the UK, in particular, point to huge age disparities in the coming decades as baby boomers retire. A demographic crisis looms.</b> <a title=”What Baby Boomers’ Retirement Means For the U.S. Economy” href=”http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-baby-boomers-retirement-means-for-the-u-s-economy/” target=”_blank”>Click here for further information</a>...

Letter to the Irish Medical Times

There ought to be a central living will registry Dear Editor, As someone who has written a living will, I was interested in Gary Culliton’s article of April 11 (‘Doctor concerns over living wills’). Our treatment at the time of death is probably one of the areas most neglected in modern medicine, where death is regarded as an enemy rather than the friend that it can often be. My big concern is that if I were to collapse away from home, how could those treating me know of my living will? I would suggest that there should be a central registry where such documents could be stored. If those who had made such a living will carried a card to this effect any treating physician could access that document before embarking on procedures that the patient concerned may have stated specifically that they did not wish to be carried out. I would suggest that it should be the responsibility of the Department of Health to set up such a registry. Dr Conor Carr, Ballinasloe, Co Galway.   Fortunately, such a registry now exists: The UK Living Will...