One year ago, Judy MacDonald Johnston did a beautiful TED Talk on preparation for a good end of life. The clip and transcript can be found at her website http://www.goodendoflife.com. I strongly encourage you to set aside 6 minutes of your day to listen. She highlighted five key steps for preparation:
- Create a plan (What do you want the end of your life to look like? Do you see yourself at home, in the hospital, in a hospice, or a care facility? Who is there? If “x” happens to me, I would like for you to do “y” and not do “z”.)
- Identify your advocates (Which people do I want to speak for me, if I cannot articulate myself? Prepare these people by making sure they understand your values and end of life goals.)
- Prepare a one-page summary to give to medical staff, should you be admitted to hospital. (Include medical history, current medicine, photocopies of identification, a copy of your Power of Attorney and a copy of your Goals of Care. Make sure your advocates know that this exists.)
- Choose your caregivers and the place you’d like to die (What can I afford in terms of caregiving? If I have the means, can I choose someone other than my children or my spouse?)
- Discuss last words (Who do I want to be around me during my last days? What things would I want to hear in order to be reassured and comforted?)
Judy MacDonald Johnston has a user-friendly website (http://www.goodendoflife.com) that has worksheets to help you and your loved ones address her five end of life prep steps. Her worksheets make the topic easier to introduce to family members, and guide you through steps and reflections that you may have never considered.
At Aspen Care Calgary, we believe that everyone can and should have an end of life that is as good as it possibly can be. In addition to these 5 steps, we would encourage you and your loved ones to also consider the following when preparing for end of life:
- Create meaningful legacy work, even if it is simple. (See our blog article on the importance of leaving a legacy, and project ideas.)
- Spend time putting your legal, financial, and personal affairs in order, so that when loved ones left behind can know that they are acting upon your wishes.
- Address any unfinished goals that are important to you. Do not hesitate to seek assistance from loved ones if you feel that the task may be too much to do by yourself.
Enjoy some other thought provoking TED talks on death and aging:
- Jane Fonda: Life’s third act
- Peter Saul on: Let’s talk about dying
- Stephen Cave: The 4 stories we tell ourselves about death