• What documents do I need?

    Asked by Laureen on Sunday, March 17, 2013

    What documents do I need?

    I have Stage 4 cancer. I am very particular about what the drs will & won't do to me when I get sicker. I am very concerned as I was a friend of Karen Ann Quinlan, my mom was kept on life support for weeks, cos the drs "couldn't" pull the plug; & I had a great aunt who was hooked up to feeding tubes, etc, for more than 10 yrs because she "didn't have her wishes written down", I'm justifiably gun shy. I know I need a Will & I have a Health Care Proxy. What other documents should I have? I've already written my obit & my funeral wishes. Even the online information my husband will need to deal with that stuff. Any information would be helpful.

    5 Answers from the Community

    5 answers
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Laureen,

      I'm Aliza. I'm a BC patient and a Medical Librarian who researches for people on this site and elsewhere. I'm sorry to hear about your news. I hope you are comfortable and able to enjoy things.

      In order to set your mind at ease, the first thing I might suggest to you is to see an attorney/have one come to see you if you're not able to go out (they do that often in such cases). You'll want to have made a will (last will & testament) and once you find an attorney that deals in such matters as this (even an ElderCare attorney might be a good choice [though you're not so old] but because of your circumstances), because they can be more helpful with regard to helping you include what should/shouldn't be included in a Living will (also want to be sure that your husband has the finances protected in case you have a protracted illness for any reason). Be very specific as to what you want/don't want. Very important. Things have come a ways since the time Karen Quinlan went into her coma though.

      Before anything else, make certain that your treating hospital has photocopies of all your Health Care proxy information and make sure your Health Care proxy or proxies (if there are more than one) are all carrying their copies of this document on them in the event of an emergency, whether that be at your treating hospital or elsewhere.

      You may if you belong to a religious community, wish to speak with your clergyperson at this time re certain religious preferences that you have. Various religions vary in their funeral practices and even in the same religion, e.g., Judaism, there are currently 4 distinct and a 5th denomination coming onto the horizon, so it's sensible in that case to speak to a Rabbi re your wishes. It is also good depending on your beliefs to ask your clergyperson to pray for you (i.e., put you on their list of sick people).

      I myself, cannot think of anything else, but you may want to internet search as well, (e-how, dogpile [all the search engines combined into one]), but the main thing is to speak with a good attorney about how to properly proceed so that things are taken care of and you can relax.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or anything you'd like me to research for you.

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • carm's Avatar
      carm (Best Answer!)

      The best document and by far, the most thorough is "The 5 Wishes Book." You can get one online at a website called "Aging With Dignity." Many hospitals have them also. You do not need a lawyer and you can see a sample online. Just type in the Google search box 5 wishes book. I have one and I keep it with my DNR in a ziploc bag in my freezer so I always know where they are. It is a recognized in over 40 states as an advanced directive. It really addresses every concern from your power of attorney, DNR, how you wish to be treated, your requests for the last few days of your life and how you want your funeral and how you wish to be remembered. Check it out. I think it is $5.00 online. I keep a case at home here for my patients. Best of luck, Carm RN.

      over 3 years ago
    • Donna1943's Avatar

      Power of Attorney, Living Will stating specific wishes. Don't forget the "three wishes." Had to do with hydration, feeding tube, and pain med. Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • Laureen's Avatar

      Ordered the 5 wishes book. hope it comes soon.

      over 3 years ago
    • Laureen's Avatar

      Carm, the idea of putting the information in the freezer is an excellent one. Good idea for insurance papers too.

      Aliza, I know that Karen Quinlan was years ago, but while the carp was hitting the fan about her, my mom wound up in the same hospital, with the same emts, drs & priest as KAQ did. This was also the time before all those Health Care Proxies & such. Man, we had very few options because anyone who died while on life support was automatically autopsied & records reviewed. I still have scars.

      over 3 years ago

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