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End-of-life conflict 
Source :Article from the April 15, 2005 CHFS Focus.
Printed with permission

End-of-life conflict 
Advanced directives can ease end-of-life conflict

By Sue Crone, Branch Manager - Families and Adult Consultative Services, Division of Protection and Permanency

The recent news headlines on the life and death of Terri Schiavo have made many people wonder what would happen if they were in a circumstance similar to Schiavo’s. What if their wishes were unclear? Would their family know what plan of action to carry out? What if there is no family? What can people do to prevent such a tragedy?

Can the same situation in Florida happen in Kentucky ?

In Schiavo’s case, both her husband and her parents said they acted as she would want. But no one knew for sure without any written documents by Schiavo.

Documents pertaining to end-of-life issues are called an “advance directive.” KRS 311.621-644 is Kentucky ’s Living Will Directive statute. A living will allows a person to make his or her wishes known if they should ever be in such a life-and-death circumstance.

The Kentucky law allows any adult who is capable of making sound decisions to make an advance directive and requires that any person who may later act as that person’s guardian or fiduciary be bound to follow the direction in the advance directive. The living will document also allows the person who makes a living will to designate a surrogate, or a person with legal standing to execute necessary medical decisions.

But what if you do not have an advance directive or if the one you have does not address your situation? Then who will be empowered to make decisions for you?

In Kentucky , the Living Will Directive allows the following people to make the decision: 1) the court-appointed guardian, if responsible for medical decisions, 2) the power-of-attorney, if specific authority for health care is included in the document, 3) spouse, 4) adult child or children, 5) parents or 6) the nearest living relative.
The person you give authority for your health-care decisions should be trustworthy and readily accessible. It is also important to make sure all key family members and any doctors you see know of your advance directive. You may want to provide copies of the document to your doctors.

Documents are available through many public sources including Hospice organizations and most hospitals. The safest course is to take the time to thoughtfully complete your Living Will and make sure others are aware of your wishes.

Read about Living Wills online at http://lrc.ky.gov/KRS/311-00/625.PDF .

For more information, contact Hospice of the Bluegrass at (800) 876-6005.

 To view PDF files this link provides a free download of Adobe Reader

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