New Year Health Care Resolutions – January, 2009

It’s a new year. How about resolving to tackle an issue facing us all. Why not write your thoughts concerning health care and, dare I say it, a final illness?

Without direction from you, health care organizations may be required to make decisions for you. Are they going to be acting solely in your best interest? What you would really want? Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are your thoughts on termination of life-sustaining treatment? What if you were in a coma, or brain dead?
  2. Who is going to make your decisions for you if you cannot?
  3. Would you want to spend the rest of your life on a feeding tube or respirator?
  4. Do you have any religious care restrictions? The Catholic Church recently stated that the use of a feeding tube should be considered an ordinary measure and should not be withdrawn. Does this change your thoughts about being at a Catholic health care provider?
  5. How do you feel about assisted suicide? Do you want enough medication to cover pain even if it could hasten your death?
  6. Should your agent be required to speak with your family prior to terminating life-sustaining treatment? How much time should pass between this conversation and letting go?
  7. Do you want to die at home?
  8. Would you want to be in a nursing home facility? Have you thought about the financial costs?
  9. Would you like your last days to be a celebration of your life? Would you rather that time be quiet and contemplative? Would you want to have a spiritual advisor nearby?
  10. Are you an organ donor? Which organs? What do you think about donating your body to science or education?


If you have an opinion on any of these issues, how do you make it known? Here is what I suggest.

  • Execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care. Name an agent and specify care and restrictions.
  • Execute a Living Will. List the circumstances in which you would like to have comfort care and cease medical care to prolong your life.
  • Register as an Organ Donor. Start with the Illinois Secretary of State and think about going on a national data base.
  • Write a Personal Mission Statement. Put your thoughts in writing for your family and friends.
  • Share your Thoughts. Expressing your opinion not only makes facing illness better for you, but easier on the people you love.


For more information, contact Mildred V. Palmer.
Summary: Things to consider when planning for long term health care issues.