Many years ago, shortly after my daughter was born, my parents asked my husband and me about our will. It turned out, however, that they were less concerned about a will than they were about whether we had signed medical directives or health care proxies that defined what should be done is case one of us, despite our good health and youthful ages (we were 30-somethings at the time), was suddenly very ill and at the end-of-life.
It took a few more years, but we both signed proxies. The final impetus was the news coverage of families who were fighting over a family member who was dying,some of these turning into media circuses where pundits and cable news commentators shrilly proclaimed that they knew what should be done. We resolved never to put ourselves or our families in such a situation.
So it was with some interest that I read a November 16, 2011 Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune, End of Life Documents Not Huge Concern for Many Boomers, Who Say They Still Feel Young, describing an Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com Poll that identified a trend among boomers not to sign medical directives. A number of the people in the article said that they felt healthy and great and just didn’t have time to focus on the task — not the greatest point of view, since life can change in an instant. Read how the poll was conducted.
Not having a medical directive or health care proxy can cause a huge amount pain in a family. Moreover, if an adult child is helping to support aging parents, the lack of a proxy has the potential to cause extraordinary confusion and stress.