Life plans, Surrogate Decision makers, Oral health care plans
Maybe I’m at the stage or maybe it’s a sign of the times with the Boomers aging, but issues of getting older need discussion. So, if you do not belong to the specifically concerned demographic, feel free to read another blog.
A Will is a good idea no matter what age you are if you have assets of some kind. However, the final instructions in your will are completed after you have left this world and are no longer capable of speaking for yourself. The process may also be lengthy.
While alive and incapacitated, a surrogate decision maker for financial and healthcare issues is needed to speak on your behalf when you can’t. They may be a single individual or many – your specific circumstances will determine. They speak for you when the decisions will affect you unlike a will which affects those left behind. This is known as an advanced health care directive amongst several names.
Healthcare decision makers are entrusted with making decisions about your health when you are incapable of doing so. An underlying assumption is that you have discussed your desires with the individual at the time of asking them to be your proxy. Usually this relates to big issues such as being kept alive with machines, a do not resuscitate order or consent for major surgery. We tend only to think of this in terms of big issues affecting our general health.
Perhaps it is time to consider lesser concerns related to, but equally important to quality- of- life health issues. Many people invest extensively in maintaining, restoring or rehabilitating their oral health. Sadly, this is usually an ignored or forgotten area until there is an acute problem.
Oral health maintenance requires an active ability to look after your mouth. Once that ability to tend to your mouth’s maintenance is impaired, it does not take long for the mouth to deteriorate. Even if you are being fed by intravenous routes, i.e. nothing being eaten, plaque bacteria are present and able to cause the ultimate failure of teeth and gums, not to mention dental work.
Most hospital, long term care facilities and even old folks homes do not have the man power to satisfactorily help with oral hygiene. Thus, it is important to discuss, who, when, how, etc. will assist. What will be the intervention if the teeth do fail? These are just some of the questions that arise which need discussion along with the big issue concerns.
‘Life plans’ should be addressed before they are needed. All of the possible issues need to be considered. Carpe diem!