Death, taxes, and childbirth!

Cover of "Gone with the Wind"
Cover of Gone with the Wind

“There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” Thus said Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell‘s Gone with the Wind.

I have no advice to offer on either taxes or childbirth, although I have experienced both in my life. But I do have advice on death, specifically on the importance of having Living Wills/Advance Directives. I’ve written many blog posts related to this topic, about my frustrating encounters with the healthcare system misplacing/not honoring my elderly father’s Advance Directives.

“April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and I hope that you will take this time to discuss and document your healthcare wishes.  We all need to be prepared in the event of a health crisis, and having the talk is easier than most people think, but many of us need a little inspiration or a reminder to do it.  I hope that this message and National Healthcare Decisions Day are all you need for inspiration.  Please check out the short, but fantastic video at www.nhdd.org and then mark your calendar for April 16 to have the talk with your loved ones.  There are all sorts of free resources–including free advance directive forms for each of the 50 states–on the NHDD website: http://www.nhdd.org. Additionally, please help me spread the word with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Advance care planning is something we ALL should do and encourage others to do, regardless of age or current health.  Discussing your wishes can be one of the most important gifts you ever give your loved ones.” (from Nathan Kottkamp, Chair of the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative.”

Related to this topic, and especially relevant to nurses, is the excellent American Journal of Nursing short essay by Doug Olsen, “Issues Raised by Media Coverage of a Nurse Declining to do CPR.”In his essay, Olsen points out the ethical issues related to media people who sensationalized the case of the ‘nurse’ in a California assisted living facility who refused to do CPR on an elderly woman resident. But he also points out the willful lack of education of the general public (by the healthcare system) about the dangers of and limits to CPR, especially in elderly patients. This is something nurses and other healthcare professionals need to do a better job with.

So listen to Scarlett: do your taxes, attend to whatever childbirths you may encounter, and talk with your loved ones about their end of life wishes.

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