Today is Father’s Day in the US. Ordinarily I find the whole concept annoying. It’s a made up holiday promoted by card companies and restaurants. But since my father died five years ago I miss not being able to take him to lunch or buy him a card.
A friend recently brought up the difficulty of living with the uncertainty of PD and I have given it some thought today. My father knew he would probably only live four to six more months. Uncertainty was not his problem. I asked him once if he was glad to know that his life was nearly over or would he rather have stepped in front of a bus. He was adamant that knowing was better. He had made his arrangements and had forgiven almost everyone he needed to. Knowing, he thought, was imminently preferable to not knowing.
For most of us, our timeline is not as short as four to six months, but our future is more knowable than many. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It makes it possible for us to be proactive in planning for things that will almost inevitably befall us. It isn’t as grim as it sounds, it is practical and prudent and relieves us of having to make serious decisions in crisis mode.
Every responsible adult should have a plan. The plan needs to include a Medical Power of Attorney naming the individual who will make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself; and an Advance Directive that specifically designates what you do and do not wish to be done for or to you if you are unable to speak for yourself. Having these two documents and sharing the information with your family, your doctor and anyone else who is important to you may keep the necessity of bringing outsiders such as attorneys and judges into the mix and prevent conflict from erupting between your loved ones.
Regarding making a plan, sooner is better than later. These are things that are difficult to think about and even more difficult to talk about but easier when we feel good and nothing is threatening, than when crisis is on top of us and no one knows what we really want. Encouraging your grown children to make their own plan is, perhaps a way to begin the conversation. After all, anyone can step in front of bus.