I have never had a circumstance arise where the wishes outlined in my client’s Power Of Attorney For Healthcare were not carried out by a community where s/he was residing. I am sharing the facts regarding a recent incident that occurred lest it happen to you and your loved one.
I was hired by the child of an elderly loved one who was living in a rehabilitation community (religious affiliated) under Medicare benefits. The child lived out of state and told me that I was to identify the best long term care communities of the same religious affiliation for the loved one. The current community typically did not have a lot of long term care beds available. Placement was to occur once the loved one’s rehabilitation was completed. Spirituality was exceedingly important to this particular senior. The ability to attend religious services was a mandatory prerequisite.
After preparing the necessary research on the communities that fit the family’s criteria, I was instructed to arrange transportation to accompany the senior on the tours of the various communities.
I accompanied the senior on tours of three communities via Medivan. I could tell during the tours that the senior was not showing interest in moving to any of the other communities. During our ride back to the rehab. community, the senior confessed to me that the current community was more than adequate to satisfy his/her needs. The staff was polite. The food was very good. The activities were fun and interesting thus satisfying the senior’s needs for socialization. I was told, “I understand that my child wants me to have the very best. However, my tastes are very simple and I am begging you to let me stay where I am.” As soon as we arrived back at the rehab. community, I went to the Admissions Director to inquire about the possibility of a permanent stay for the senior.
Much to my relief, I was told that a few long term care beds had opened up, All we needed to do to make the admission permanent was to fill out some applications. I called the child and relayed what happened. The child was very surprised at the parent’s response, but agreed to the loved one’s wishes.
Several weeks ago, the child contacted me and said the loved one’s health had taken a turn for the worst. The senior was receiving hospice care. The hospice organization was doing a wonderful job. However, the loved one had been placed on a feeding tube, much to everyone’s dismay (including the senior). The senior at that point was still capable of feeding him/herself. The senior and the family requested that the community remove the feeding tube. The senior had initialed the paragraph on the Power Of Attorney Form For Healthcare that explicitly stated ,”I do not want my life prolonged nor do I want life-sustaining treatment to be provided or continued if my agent believes the burdens of the treatment outweigh the expected benefits. I want my agent to consider the relief of suffering, the expense involved and the quality as well as the possible extension of my life in making decisions concerning life-sustaining treatment.” Yet, the administration refused because the request was not in alignment with the community’s religious beliefs.
The child asked me to check other communities of the same faith to see if they would honor the loved one’s request. I was told by at least three other organizations of the same faith that they would respect the senior’s wishes. Ultimately, the senior was not moved per the family’s request and the senior died.
It is truthfully unfortunate that a senior who was capable of feeding his/herself was denied the pleasure of eating normally per his/her wishes. I have worked with other organizations of the same faith and have never seen such a conservative approach applied. This was just another unforeseen event in the world of senior care.
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