Do you have a safe place where important documents are kept? Do family members know where to find them? Who is in charge of family health and end-of-life affairs (if you cannot)? News Flash…Your cellular devices and computers may be handy, but important documents must be kept where you can put your hands on them(hard copies) when necessary.
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 write about 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 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 (DD-214), birth certificates, and social security documents, and government identification. Further, her healthcare directive and will was housed in the document location, and a notarized agreement stating the decision-making person…ME! It is most important to be clear as to who will oversee the loved ones under your care. Note… If you cannot 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’s love.
I placed my mother in hospice care. It was the hardest decision of a lifetime, but the right one for her and my family. I must tell you not all family was initially on board with my decision. I had to block out the noise and do what was comforting, while painfully necessary. Being a nurse did not make the decision easier. Life and my profession guided me to understand that life is an art and a science and while we may be able to prolong someone’s life, what kind of existence would that be? Life on earth is temporal.
Mother smiled at us until the end. She understood life was temporal. She was grateful to be out of the hospital and home. She was grateful to be with her family. She was grateful! As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, acknowledge that we live between the dots of life and death. None of us will get out of here alive. So, let us prepare! Be safe! Be well!