More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

End of Life Plan - Not Just For the Elderly

by Laura Bramble

Most people live with a fear of being debilitated and unable to make end of life decisions, whether by accident, disease or aging. Mental autonomy is a vital part of our identities and it is hard to imagine life without it. Yet many face that very situation every day. Having a clearly defined, written plan that close friends and family understand goes a long way in relieving some of that fear.

Like wills, people approach end of life plans with hesitation. These plans are seen as morbid or as bringing bad things into being. Younger people feel that there is plenty of time; only "old people" need to plan ahead and declare their wishes. However, many who need end of life plans are not those who are dying a slow and dignified death with plenty of time to set things in order. Accidents and sudden illnesses create situations that render the victim incapacitated and unable to make decisions for himself, the very situation that requires this kind of plan. The suddenness of the condition also leaves family members to deal with a large number of issues and emotions at once, besides the burden of having to make decisions for a loved one. Having a plan in place keeps loved ones from having to think about those issues while they are in the midst of coping with their emotions and prevents them from ever wondering if they did the right thing and respected your unknown wishes.

A basic end of life plan deals with a few issues: life support and extraordinary medical measures, organ donation and funeral arrangements, hospice care and financial issues. Whether a patient wants doctors to keep them on life support for an extended period or resort to complicated or risky procedures on a faint hope of success needs to be spelled out, since making that decision means condemning a loved one to death. This is a very pressure filled situation for a grieving loved one. For those that have definite feelings about how they wish their body to be handled after death, especially those with strong religious convictions, putting directions in writing removes any guesswork and ensures that their final wishes will be met. Some people are comfortable with the idea of hospice care, while others would rather die at home, surrounded by familiar people and things, which an end of life plan makes clear. An end of life plan also creates arrangements for the support of spouses and children, temporary custody and guardianship, and funding for medical and funeral expenses.

It takes a team to develop a solid end of life plan. Especially if you are ill or elderly, speaking with your doctor about what to expect and getting answers to questions can help you settle the medical issues surrounding long-term care and life support. An attorney can give legal advice on the best and smoothest way to handle any transfers of property or authority. A financial advisor who specializes in estate and succession planning can advise you on the most effective way to structure your finances to guarantee that funds are in place to cover expenses while minimizing the tax burden on loved ones.

Laura Bramble is a freelance writer living in Atlanta. You may view more of her work at walkers for seniors or walkers with wheels

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.For more information, you might enjoy reading my book, More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife. Purchase paperback on It's also on Amazon as an e-book for those who have Kindle or Sony Readers. The audio book is now available!
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