While making visiting with a friend who just lost his sister, he shared how difficult it was for him especially as she had chosen him (above her parents, children and other siblings) to be her Power of Attorney (POA). His sister had been in end stage cancer and he had to make some very difficult decisions about her care at the end. Having spoken with her at length about what she did and did not want done to prolong her life he followed her wishes and made decisions accordingly, which meant not approving a procedure that would have been very painful and would have done little to change the outcome.
Those who have never had to make potentially life/death decisions cannot imagine the strength it takes to make these types of choices, even if it is following the directions of your loved one to the letter.
As I have shared in my speaking and blogging, choosing a POA (and making sure it is the right person for the job) is imperative. (See FYI about POA). However, being named as the “chosen one” has its burdens as well.
Here are just a few:
- You may question why you were picked
- Others may question why you were picked, thinking they would have been a better choice.
- Knowing the right time/situation to step in to help someone in making difficult health-care decisions.
- Having the strength to make difficult decisions IN SPITE OF your emotions and/or the emotions of other family members.
- Having the courage to make difficult decisions IN SPITE OF the criticism of those around you.
Sounds daunting but have heart there is hope.
Here are some steps that you can encourage the person who has deemed you the “chosen one” to take once they have made their decision
- Have a very direct and serious conversation about what they want/don’t want in certain situations. Use the “what if” blog as a starting point.
- Ask them to write down in DETAIL what they would or would not want if certain situations were to arise (helpful tool – 5 wishes)
- Ask them to share their decision to choose you with other family members (nothing worse than someone else thinking they are in charge only to realize they were not the “chosen one”), as well as share that their wishes are written down in detail and you are to follow their instructions.
- Make sure that everyone in the family understands that this was their decision and that this is not about “favorites”, it is about who THEY FEEL is able to manage the care in the fashion requested by the assignee.
**Just because someone asks you to be his or her power-of-attorney does not mean you have to say “yes”.
You must be willing and able to follow their wishes IN SPITE OF your own thoughts, feelings or emotional connection and have thick skin and an unwavering spirit to face the potential hostile response/criticism that may come from other family members. If you do not think you can do that, you should be honest with them and graciously decline and share the reasons.
For more support/resources visit: CaregiverLife.com