06/26/12 People on the street are answering the question – “where do you want to be when you are facing the end of your life?” That is how the DVD “Consider the Conversation” begins. Next, a cancer stricken, 50-something man is discussing his life as “always knowing what’s next”, until he is faced with his own death. He isn’t as concerned abut the quantity of days he has left as he is about the quality each of those days will possess.
Between these DVD clips about end of life decisions, South Bend Elder Law Attorney Douglas D. Germann along with Heartland Hospice Nurse Liaison, Lynn Hawkins and Plymouth Assistant EMS Chief, Deanna Cleveland led the Miller’s Senior Living Community residents, guest and staff in an informative discussion.
Throughout the discussion two key points kept coming up. First, it is a very important conversation to have with your family members and loved ones. And second, it is a loving thing to do. When faced with end of life issues it is best to have things worked out and documented on paper so that our loved ones are not making decisions in crisis mode.
Who starts the conversation was a major question posed by Germann. There is no right or wrong answer to this question as long as the conversation does get started. One person in the audience shared the guilt the family felt making decisions for an ailing loved one because they had never discussed such issues.
“Yes,” Germann agreed. “It can be a difficult conversation to start. But, once it’s started discuss it seriously and let your loved ones know that it is very important to you. Taking control of how we spend our last days is a great gift we can give our loved ones.”
Several times Germann had the audience break into smaller discussion groups and talk about end of life issues that were important to each of them. As the seminar came to an end he opened the floor to questions that were answered by Hawkins and Cleveland.
Hawkins answered questions about hospice care and reminded everyone to remember that hospice is not “giving up”. Hospice is the “next step of your medical disease and offers ways for you to live longer.
Cleveland explained what happens when the EMS arrives at your home or an accident. She told about the responsibility they have in responding to emergency calls. She also explained about the importance of placing an “ICE” next to the numbers on your cell phone you would want contacted “In Case of an Emergency”. This is how the EMS and Police contact your loved ones. She also told about the “Vial of Life” in which your important medical information is kept and the EMS knows where to find it when they enter a house.
Those who did not attend the seminar but are interested in knowing more about “Consider the Conversation” may go to http://www.ConsidertheConversation.org. To find out more about Miller’s Senior Living Community events and seminars may call 574-936-9801 and ask for Anna Corbett or Cindy Flagg.
Photo: Plymouth EMS Assistant Chief Deanna Cleveland takes part in a small group discussion at Miller’s Senior Living Community with June Koss, Lorna Miller, Katie Kubley and Audrey Franklin.