Last month I mentioned that I would share a saga of my family’s history, with respect to estate planning. My story is a cautionary one, showing what can happen in one unfortunate healthcare situation due to a legal loophole. The upcoming Successful Aging Strategies Team workshops this month will present information and resources for us all. It is important to plan wisely when making one’s Trust and when updating it. I will be attending this series of workshops.
My late mother was a very pragmatic person, a farm-girl, an artist, and a UU. My father always showed himself to be thoughtful of others but always in command. Serious long-term health concerns found my mother to be on life support twice. The first time was for approximately 9 weeks, in which she was eventually weaned off a ventilator. Four years later in 2006, her health took a turn for the worse. My father agreed to place her onto life-support, which, in this instance, included a feeding tube as well as a ventilator. All her physicians, as well as I, their only child, argued against this treatment as it was against everything my mother would have wanted. Her Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care stated to not allow life-saving treatments if “an incurable and irreversible condition has been diagnosed by two physicians that will result in (her) death within a relatively short time….” and we were at the decision point. The loophole here was that my father was the Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions and went against her stated wishes.
A transfer to a sub-acute facility, aka “vent farm” was the next step. My mother was awake enough, for the first couple of months (although she couldn’t speak) to mouth the words “take me home”. I told her I would try to do that, although it would happen only once; she nodded her head in agreement. My dad would not allow it, as he wanted her to get better. A heart wrenching situation that I hope no one has to ever be a part of. “Life” was extended in this instance for two years. Finally, she was placed into Hospice Care and allowed to pass. I still thank the facility’s chaplain, my family, friends here at Chalice and the ministerial staff from our UU Network for their support. Susan Spoto, President of Chalice UU Congregation