The first time I visited our hospice patient Ben, a 68-year-old man with cancer, I noticed that he was reluctant to talk to me about his physical symptoms. He denied having any pain even though his tense facial muscles and elevated heart rate suggested that he was experiencing a significant amount of discomfort. Ben was polite toward me but would answer my questions with only a few words.
When my mother was diagnosed with biliary cancer at the age of 89 it was relatively easy to choose our next steps because I had worked as a hospice physician for many years and understood the options that were available to her. In addition I had already held many conversations with her over a period of five years about what type of care she wanted to receive at the end of life so we were well prepared for the situation that faced us.
A couple years after my mom died, I had a very vivid dream where she descended from the sky in a hot air balloon. I ran to the basket and she said, “Katie, know that when you see a hot air balloon, I am with you.”
Two topics often overlooked in estate planning are beneficiaries and belongings. Beneficiary designations are separate contracts and are not subject to the terms of your Will. Continue reading “Planning to Die: A 5-part guide to understanding the values of wills / Part 4 Beneficiaries & Belongings”
My lawyer/friend Julia recommends that people think about estate planning holistically and consider ensuring that they have a Will, Living Will, and Powers of Attorney. Most of her clients end up including all of them when going through the process, but if someone simply wants one of the documents I outlined in Part I, she will happily work with them, too. She also thinks it’s important for everyone, regardless of age, assets and health status to do a Will.
My dad designed an Advance Directive form thirty years ago for his patients. It is one page. It states things like, “If I have a terminal condition, in general, I would or would not want these things done” (for example, dialysis, feeding tube, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, antibiotics). In the state of Nebraska, where he resides, the page does not need to be notarized, it just requires a witness. He then asks his patients to discuss with their loved ones and send him a copy, and he saves it on file.
For every other 30-something year-old I know, the hypothetical scenarios of getting your affairs in order are just that. Very hypothetical. But whatever age you are, even if it is just hypothetical, nothing makes having the conversation about death with loved ones easy. For me, it’s very real. I am, after all, living with a rare form of stage 4 cancer.
Let’s face it: if you’re human you have most likely experienced a fear of death at one time or another in your life – or else you may have been in complete denial of your fear and repressing it. That’s because the fear of death is normal for all of us – we have a survival instinct that motivates us to avoid death-inducing situations.
When it was time for Doris, an 85-year old woman with biliary cancer, to be discharged from the hospital, her physician suggested to her and her family that she be admitted to hospice care. But Doris refused hospice care even though her family members strongly supported the doctor’s advice.
With a shared vision for honoring and preserving the legacies of U.S. military veterans, The Denver Hospice and FOX31 are proud to announce a new community partnership focused on sharing information and resources to better serve and support Colorado’s 400,000 military veterans.
As part of this collaborative effort, The Denver Hospice has been invited to join the FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve advisory committee. FOX31 has signed on as an exclusive media partner for The Denver Hospice’s 2018 signature fundraising event, Heroes & Halos: A Tribute to Veterans. Continue reading “The Denver Hospice and FOX31 Partner to Support Military Veterans”