Hospice Panel Prepares The Living For Dying

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The high profile deaths of Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II have forced many people to ponder how they will face the end of their lives.

On June 2, RTA Hospice and Palliative care is sponsoring a free panel discussion on Advance Care Planning from legal, emotional, spiritual and medical perspectives.

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Hospice Chaplain Lynn Richie and social worker Lois Atkins are two of the panelists at the Advance Care Planning workshop June 2. Participants will discuss end-of-life issues from an emotional, legal and medical perspective.

"When you are 20 something you are not really thinking about what you want for the end of your life," said Vicki Dietz, vice president of business development for Hospice. "The Schiavo case really brought out so much agony and grief for the family and the country. Hospice is trying to reach out and educate the community on advance planning.

"It is important for the people who love and care for you to know what your wishes are."

Panelists will include Dietz, local attorney Dennis Omoto, Fire Chief Marty deMasi, Hospice Chaplain Lynn Richie, David Glow, M.D. and social worker Lois Atkins.

The basic documents of advance care planning are the do not resuscitate order, a living will and a medical power of attorney.

"Your living will is what clarifies the DNR (do not resuscitate)," said Chaplain Richie. "It should be in the possession of your physician, the local hospital, you should carry one with you when you travel. It should be in your possession all the time because if something happens, an automobile accident for instance, nobody knows what your wants are."

States are going to begin storing these wills electronically.

An individual may certainly go further in stating their wishes.

Aging With Dignity's Five Wishes project has created a thought-provoking booklet. It prompts the reader to ask themselves then answer important end of life questions.

Wish 1 gives you tips to use in choosing the right person to be your health care agent as well as the space to write names of your first, second and third choice for that agent.

In Wish 2 an individual has space to write what life-support treatment means to them. It covers the kind of medical treatment a person desires in near-death, coma and severe brain damage situations. Then it gives space to write instructions for "another condition under which I do not wish to be kept alive."

Wish 3 covers how comfortable a person wants to be made. For example, what kind of music do they want played in their room? What kinds of personal grooming do they wish?

How I want people to treat me is the topic of Wish 4. One of its points to ponder is whether a person wants to be talked to or have their hand held even if they appear unresponsive.

Wish 5 covers things I want my loved ones to know. How do you want to be remembered? Do you wish to be cremated? Is there anything special you want at your memorial service?

According to Lorna Hansen executive director, when a person is referred to hospice care, the first question they are asked is whether they have completed their Advance Care Directives.

ACDs may be obtained at RTA Hospice at 511 S. Mud Springs Road in Payson or by downloading from the national hospice website www.nhpco.org. Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org is another website that is helpful in exploring end of life issues.

The workshop will allow attendees to ask questions, gather information and explore feelings about end-of-life issues.

There is only room for 100 people to attend the panel discussion on Advance Care Planning.

It will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 2 at Mountain Bible Church, 302 E. Rancho Road. RSVP to Ione or Alicia at (928) 472-6340.

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