Knock Knock

Whenever I hear this now I reluctantly respond in a slow monotone of “Whoooo’s there.”  At one time I may have gleefully replied in a more excited tone of eager expectation of the often witty response. But at 60, I have heard the usual responses hundreds of times and rarely hear something new or funny. But today, as I considered the topic for my blog title, I overheard someone on the television say “Knock Knock.” Not knowing the context of the words on the TV show in the background, I suddenly realized the value of the statement as it pertains to quite a different subject.

Weekly, my wife and I take turns blogging about all the issues surrounding conversations we hope to generate among our readers and the general population about end of life needs, care, and desires. Knock Knock, now has an entirely different meaning for me.

So, who’s there, really? Ask yourselves, who is really there. When you are talking to someone you love, and you are interested in establishing a plan for how to attend to the needs of their changing health, finances, and function, who are they really? More importantly, who are they now? As my time in health care continues I have often heard the comments: “We have done that.”, “I have done that,”, or “I/we hope/want to do that with so and so soon, this Thanksgiving, at Christmas, during vacation.”  The question is this:  Do we feel comfortable with the level of comprehension of their feelings. It’s important to consider what may have changed since our last conversation. I have found that very few people have continued discussions and make adjustments to their living wills and documentation over time.

There are lots of resources available to give guidance to someone wishing to explore planning for end of life. There are social workers, physicians, and clergy. Numerous on-line options exist on how to plan and prepare for the multitude of situations people can and will face in the care for the transition of life from independence to dependence. None of these tools are going to be helpful if the person who is being cared for has not been involved on some level. I am constantly telling my patients and their families: “We can’t help if we don’t know.”

Caring Choices asks everyone to please Knock! Find out who’s there. Start to ask questions early. Document the answers in a clear and easy to understand style that can be quickly found and accessed by family, friends or health care professionals.  Get to know your loved one’s thoughts on where, how, and what type of care and arrangements they are comfortable with. Please do not let decisions that can affect the remaining quality of life become subject to some standard response like it is of no more importance than an old joke.

© 2015 Caring Choices