Recently during a meeting about nursing home safety measures to reduce fall risk and prevent future injuries, a resident said “whatever will be, will be” (which reminded me of the old Doris Day tune, titling today’s blog post). His opinion about said safety measures was that regardless what we plan to do, we won’t prevent all falls and he may be injured in a fall at some point.
To a degree, I live my life under the motto of “whatever will be, will be” because we don’t know what the future holds and we are not able to control every aspect of every situation we encounter. However, I also recognize that we do have control in how we react to things that occur. We do have the ability to affect change in our circumstances when life throws us a curve ball. We do have the power to make plans (Plan A, B and C) to prepare for future happenings.
One thing we all know for certain is that each of us will face death, our own and that of people we love. We don’t know when or even how it will happen. We likely won’t be able to control or predict when it will happen. BUT, we can help manage the emotional burdens for those we love.
We can impact the future for ourselves and people we love by making plans about healthcare choices and having personal conversations with them about our hopes, values and expectations. Plans do not need to be elaborate constructs of detailed, step-by-step processes. Simply telling our loved ones a few key things can help them face our illness and death with less trepidation and burden. For example, some things I say to people who love me:
- It will be okay to place me a nursing home if you are not able to take care of my needs in my home. Visit me as often as you can but know that daily visits are not necessary. If I’m still able to see/read, make sure I have my iPad, books and magazines to occupy my time.
- I do not want to take a handful of medications especially if they will no longer benefit me or give my life quality. You know that I cannot swallow pills without great trouble so limit what I’m given in pill/capsule/caplet form, make sure it’s crushed (or an appropriate alternative if manufacturers say not to crush!) and in pudding!
- I am in favor of receiving hospice care for as long as I am eligible. Don’t wait too long to begin this vital service which will benefit me and you.
- Know that I have made my choices and decisions based on my values, beliefs and life experiences. I have made these choices and decisions to reduce/eliminate decision-making burden on you. My Five Wishes form will guide you in future decisions if I am unable to communicate.
- If I’m no longer able to express myself, know that I love you. Your presence in my life has made it much richer and more meaningful. I will see you again someday. It is okay to say good-bye to me and for you to tell me it’s okay to leave you.
This isn’t morbid or maudlin. This is life-changing knowledge I give to my loved ones so they can know they’ve done things in the manner in which I’ve instructed (and chosen for myself). They will not need to second-guess decisions or question what I would have wanted when a healthcare professional questions them. They will be able to confidently advocate for my choices and stand up to people in positions of power who may disregard my choices because they deem it more appropriate to follow regulations and rules under which they provide services.
Taking some of the unknown out of “whatever will be, will be” for my family and friends is important to me. Planning for their emotionally-whole passage through loss, grief and bereavement is something I do as much for them as for myself. Conversations, writings and my Five Wishes will aid them in decision-making; but they will also aid them after I’ve gone to the other side of the garden wall (nod to Jackson Browne).
Caring Choices. Make them for yourself and for those you love. We can’t account for everything, but we can pave the way to reduce emotional burden of decision-making and caregiving. Don’t leave your and your loved futures up to “Que Sera, Sera.”
© 2015 Caring Choices