Read the article, "Death, dying and doctors."
Everett Clinic Palliative Care Manager, Velda Filzen, contributed:
Denial of death. Velda Filzen recognizes the look. She sees it every time when teaching about advanced directives and other end-of-life issues at Five Wishes classes offered by Everett Clinic to the public. Older couples, people beginning Medicare insurance and adult children with their parents comprise the majority of the classes, she said. A nurse and coordinator for the Palliative Care Clinic at Everett Clinic, Filzen says “you can tell by the look on their faces that no one wants to go there – talking about dying.”
Not acting on your own behalf regarding your own death not only leads your relatives feeling helpless, it also leads to costly – and perhaps unnecessary – medical intervention.
“The default is treatment,” explains Filzen. “That's the law.” Meaning if there's nothing in place stating what the patient wants, emergency care workers and physicians must keep a patient alive. Utilizing this expensive “all means necessary” approach has led to skyrocketing end-of-life medical costs in the United States and kept many people artificially alive who have no hope of recovery. It's also torn families apart and led to dramatic court battles and sensational media coverage.
A signature on a piece of paper not only ensures some peace and comfort for those left behind, it also lets doctors and caregivers know what you want. In effect, it's your last conversation, your last request, your final act.