Do family members know where to find them? Who is in charge of your health and end of life affairs (if you cannot)?
Preparing for the known and unknown is a topic that many are not interested in discussing. While taking care of my mother, the repeated lesson learned and one I share in my book: From The Lens Of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, shares the essential need to know the wishes of family members under your care. It is also imperative to have a safe place where important documents and contact information is stored.
For mommy and me, it was the green(fire-proof) metal box that stored all the important papers that are necessary for handling the business at hand. When she would call me to discuss the green metal box contents, my anxiety level went from zero to one hundred! I would ask myself…is mommy trying to tell me something? The green box held life insurance policies, military papers (DD214), birth certificates, and social security documents. Further, her a healthcare directive lived there as well and long with the decision-making person…ME!
Be clear as to who will oversee the loved one under your care. Note… If you are unable to make hard and sometimes painful decisions, you should Not be in charge! I get it; losing a loved one will never be easy. A caregiver’s role is not always glamorous, especially when the end of life is in view. I encourage you to consider the circumstances of your situation. If placing someone on palliative care, hospice care, or removing someone from life support is necessary, know that it demonstrates the ultimate display of a caregiver.
I placed my mother in hospice care, the hardest decision of a lifetime, and the right one. She smiled at us until the end. Being a nurse did not make the decision easier. My profession informed me to understand that life is an art and a science. We must concede that we live between the dots of birth and death. None of us will get out of here alive.