Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm Thankful for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Today I visited my brother and his wife in Hot Springs. This was not your typical Thanksgiving holiday type of visit. Johanna is a resident at a nursing home in Hot Springs – she has Alzheimer’s. The facility where she is residing is providing great care. My brother is very thankful for the care that Johanna is receiving and for her caregivers.

My visit today caused me to reflect on all of the people and things in our lives that we should be grateful for. My visit also caused me to think about all of the caregivers out there - whether professional caregivers, family members or volunteers, who are quietly working in the trenches every day to make the life of an Alzheimer’s patient just a little better. For all of these caregivers, I am very thankful. If you know a caregiver, visit them today. If you have the time, sit with their loved one for a little while to give the caregiver a brief respite. And tell the caregiver that you appreciate what they are doing. They are doing their part to make the world a better place.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time Out Workshop - Pictures

Here they are at last - pictures of the 2009 Time Out Workshop. As you will see by looking at the pictures, fun was had by one and all. It would take more than a little rain to dampen the spirits of participants.
To see the Time Out Workshop pictures (maybe one of YOU), click on the Facebook Button on the right side of this page. If you have pictures from this day, e-mail them to us and we'll post them.
Remember, the next Time Out Workshop will be called, Alzheimer's 360 - and will be Co-Sponsored by Alzheimer’s Association, Arkansas Health Care Association and The Elder Law Practice of Douglas R. Jones and Cynthia Orlicek Jones.

The guest speaker will be Teepa Snow - you don't want to miss this!!! Save the dates of Jonesboro, Monday, March 8th and Little Rock, Tuesday, March 9th. Watch for more details coming soon.

Doug & Cindy

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dying Decisions – It’s a Good Thing

This may seem to be a strange blog post title, but we all know that death is part of every life. And making a decision in advance as to how you want to die and what treatments you want to receive is usually a good thing. As Elder Law Attorneys, we often are called to assist people and their families toward the end of their life. We have found that families that have had the “dying discussion” with their loved one experience much less stress (caused as a result of wondering whether we’re doing the right thing) than families who have not done so.

Having the talk with your family is crucial. There is no substitute from hearing it directly from Mom or Dad or your Spouse what they want when the time comes. However, talking is not enough. You need to have signed proper legal documents that reflect your directions. In this blog post, we are going to discuss two health care documents necessary to carry out your last wishes - Private Living Will and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order.

A Private Living Will is a legal document in which you can state what medical treatments or interventions you want to receive in an attempt to prolong your life. You can be specific, stating whether you want a particular treatment, or you can leave the decision up to your doctor or person that you have appointed to make health care decisions for you.

I would caution you to not be too specific or you could be “hung by the tongue”. There is an infamous case where a man stated that he did not want hydration (liquid) when he was in the process of dying. When he was later dying with cancer and was in a lot of pain, the medical team determined that they could not give him morphine to dull the pain because of his wish not to receive “hydration”.

The standard language of a Private Living Will in Arkansas states that the “attending physician” may “withhold or withdraw” treatments that only prolong the process of dying. However, most attending physicians that I have met do not want to have to make this decision. It is much better practice to also have a clause in your Private Living Will which appoints a family member as your health care surrogate. In this case, the doctor will state that the person is terminal or irreversible - then the family member can decide what actions to take, based on your written instructions and your prior discussions with them.

By comparison, a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order is a written order by a patient’s attending physician that prevents CPR in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. Arkansas provides for recognition of DNR orders by emergency personnel such as EMS workers and hospital emergency room staff. A person can request that their doctor issue a DNR order or they can make this request in their Private Living Will.

This is not an easy issue and is not a discussion that a family wants to have. However, I will promise you that (after the fact) this is a discussion that families are very glad that they had with their loved one while they had the opportunity to do so.