I always tell my clients that it is better to talk with their families about their health care wishes ahead of time, before they land in the hospital. It gives you the time to really think about things, and to have the discussion at a time when no one is in crisis mode.
So it was rather interesting to find myself sitting in a hospital room last week with my father, asking him to sign a health care proxy and talking about his wishes for his health care if something happens and he can’t communicate his wishes. (Never mind my disturbance at the fact that no one from the hospital had approached him about this in the 4 days that he had been there. According to my sister, a nurse, hospital staff rarely have time to bring up the issue.)
Having to bring the topic up at that time was not ideal, and my sister and I had to strategize about how, when and if to bring it up, depending on how he was feeling when we went to see him. Thankfully, he was feeling much better and we were able to have the conversation (which ended in laughter as we imagined ourselves trying to dig a grave in the small burial plot on his land, where the last inhabitants were interred in the 1800′s.)
My father is in good hands, and we hope he will have many more years before the health care proxy is activated and someone else needs to make decisions for him. And it is nice to know that our visits can now focus on important things like how many laps around the floor he has taken and whether his doctors will let him get back to snow shoeing next winter.