What Are Your Last Wishes?
By Pepe Valencia
We live in a friendly, loving, multicultural, warm social group, where many of us plan to spend the rest of our lives as long as we have the services that make it worthy and good quality until the final moment. Obviously, we have in mind certain wishes that we want followed when these next moments come: when we require help for activities of daily living, and especially in case of a serious or terminal illness that puts us near death. Do you already have those wishes in mind? Expressed on paper and signed? If so, I congratulate you.
Now a question comes to my mind: do you know for sure that those wishes will be fully complied with?
Taken from the site www.agingwithdignity.org and from Barbara Fess, who shared it with me, here are the last wishes we might ask for:
1. Who is the person to make decisions about my health care when I became unable to? If you are unable to make decisions about your health care, it is recommended you name a person to make those decisions in your place. That person will make decisions on your behalf when your doctor dictates that you are not able to make decisions about your health and if other health care professionals agree with your doctor’s opinion.
2. What type of medical treatment do I want and not want to receive? You deserve to be treated with dignity, so before the time comes that you are very sick and unable to communicate, it’s advisable for you to have written instructions that specify the pain control, medical treatment, and life support options that agree with your personal or religious beliefs and the environment that you consider your home.
3. How comfortable do I want to be or feel when at that point? You should write: I do not want pain. I want to be neat, well-dressed, and receive attention to my personal care, listen to my favorite music if possible until the moment of my death; I want to hear out-loud readings with spiritual or religious content according to my beliefs or religion. I want my loved ones including children who surround me to have the opportunity to be by my side, to speak to me and receive the spiritual and psychological support they need.
4. How do I want to be treated or attended by my family or people at that stage? You should continue with the following: If possible, I do not want to be alone, especially when death comes; I want holding hands, listening to the words of my family and friends even when it seems that am not listening; I want to be treated with compassion, not with sadness or pity. I want to have photographs of my loved ones in my room, near my bed. I want to die at home or near home.
5. What do I want my loved ones to know when that time comes? I want my family and friends to know that I love them all. To present them my apologies for any hurt or bad feeling caused. I want them to know that they are forgiven when they believed they hurt me. I want them to know that I don’t fear death because it is the start of another journey, a new beginning for me. I wish all my family members to make peace with each other. I want to be remembered as I was before the illness that brought me to death and see my death as a personal growth for each of them. I want my body to be cremated or buried, and let a special person know my desires for my funeral.
When you finish, immediately sign these five desires before two witnesses on the date shown. Ask your family, doctors, caregivers, and friends to follow your instructions as you have described in this document.
Dr. José (Pepe) Valencia, firstname.lastname@example.org.