A Blessing from Katrina Many of you know that my parents evacuated from New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, and lived the last decade of their lives in Baton Rouge. I can’t imagine starting over in my 80’s, but they did it! Looking back, it was indeed a time of blessing, as all of us got to know them better, and in ways that probably would not have happened had it not been for Katrina.
Momma got horribly ill that January, and after she recovered, I wanted to be sure that all five of us children understood their desires for the end-of-life care. They did do Advanced Care Directives when they redid their wills. In talking with Momma about it one day, she told me of a loving conversation she had with Daddy.
Momma: “If I ever lose my mind or go boo-boo, I want you to know that you have permission to give me strychnine.”
Daddy, while patting her on the arm: “What’s wrong with the present?”
Gosh, how I miss them!
This past week, I did a Zoom conference on caring for the spirit, and it was attended by faith community nurses (aka: parish nurses) and chaplains. COVID-19 and its repercussions were at the top of everyone’s minds and presentations. Advanced Care Directives were brought up more than once, especially because of the deadly and—at times—fast deterioration that may happen, and that making this type of decision in a crisis is hard for a family.
I learned of a different type of Advanced Care Directive that can complement what one usually thinks of with this type of directive. It’s an Advanced Care Directive for dementia, and includes care such as both spoon feeding and tube feedings, nursing home placement, life-sustaining measures to be continued or not, and any other information one would want the person with their power of attorney for health care decisions to know.
Both types of these Advanced Directives are available online at https://www.compassionandchoices.org. The dementia one was easy to do, and offered the opportunity to reflect on how I want to be cared for, especially in case of dementia.
Another resource that many have used is https://agingwithdignity.org/ which is the website for 5 Wishes. Finally, please include the Living Will form from the LA Secretary of State’s office: https://www.sos.la.gov/OurOffice/PublishedDocuments/LivingWillDeclarationForm.pdf
Please have this conversation with your family members, and give them this gift. Hopefully they won’t need it for a long time, and they will always be grateful for doing this for them. It certainly helped my family when it came to the end of my parents’ lives…there was no guessing about what they wanted, and we all let them go knowing that we had done what they wanted.
If I can help you in any way, please let me know.
May God bless and keep all of you,