Founding a company that encourages informed end-of-life decision-making and conversations, while certainly not unique, is uncommon. Founding it as a relatively healthy 30-something without a medical background may put me in the category of not only uncommon but unusual.
And yet, given my conversations with professionals who deal with late-in-life and end-of-life issues, I was inspired to do so. Those conversations led me to create PlanBeyond, a new online site that helps older adults and caregivers get better educated about end-of-life medical, legal, and financial issues.
In speaking with a diverse group of professionals – from palliative care doctors, hospice care nurses to estate liquidators, estate planning lawyers and even funeral directors – I was surprised that my conversations really coalesced around one core issue: Many of the burdens they see with family members could be significantly lightened if people were just a little more proactive about exploring their final wishes and did a better job of communicating them.
Sad But Not Unusual
Consider the story that a nurse from Illinois, Anne, shared with me. A father of two was in the intensive care unit for weeks after suffering a severe stroke. His prognosis was poor, but his wife had no idea if she should keep his feeding tube in or when to consider withdrawing it. Because they were both relatively young, neither had spoken to the other about this possibility nor had either of them completed a living will. And so here she was, a mother of two young children, relatively young herself, having to face one of the most important decisions in this man’s life…without any guidance.
Or, consider the story of a funeral director from Georgia, John, who recounted a story of a widow planning the burial of her husband of over fifty years.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.