I've mentioned in previous columns the amazing folks I've been able to interact with while supporting their decision to remain at home during critical stages of their lives. Amazing people doing amazing things during not-the-best-times of their lives. And one thing has been clear: No one's fooling them, nor are they fooling themselves. They are very aware (having to live their lives daily) of their difficulties.

I have witnessed well-meaning family and friends telling "Dad" (remember him from previous columns?) "Oh, Dad, it's OK. Things aren't so bad." And I've witnessed Dad give a little wry smile, as if to say "If it helps to think that, fine. But I know where I am in life." And, as I've shared before, I also have been reminded by clients that each one of us only gets "one day at a time and none of us are getting out of here alive."

It's been said that we are all immortal until we die. OK, makes sense. And we plan for the days, the months - in short, we plan for the tomorrows. But what about the time when there are no more tomorrows?

Often, some of the folks in our community have more than their hands full trying to just get through each day, let alone planning on what happens when. And as is obvious when you think about it, once you're gone it becomes someone else's problem.

Another inspirational dynamic of folks facing end of life issues is that they are frequently more concerned about the kids, family, friends who are left behind. Lives spent avoiding being a burden are unwilling to allow even their own passing to be a problem for anyone. So what can be done? Lots.

First, there are the issues surrounding decisions when an individual can no longer make those himself. A Living Will is a written directive to the physician regarding what "life" sustaining systems are acceptable ... or that none are. A Durable Power of Attorney (not the same as Power of Attorney) is a document that appoints someone to make decisions when you are no longer able.

One of the primary differences between the POA (Power of Attorney) and the DPOA (Durable POA) is that the POA is only in effect as long as the client is able to direct and give permission to the assigned individual. A POA is not an all-inclusive license to make any and all decisions on behalf of another no matter the circumstance. Often it is thought to be so, but once a person is no longer able to direct decisions, the POA is out of the picture.

And of course, there's the matter of a will, organ donations, burial plans and so on. Some folks have set aside bank accounts specifically for burial costs, while others have opted for payment/installment plans such as Purple Cross and others. A call to a local funeral home can be very helpful in obtaining this type of information.

We also have a booklet entitled "Dealing with Death: A Guide to Understanding the Problems and Processes Surrounding a Death." (I know, catchy title.) Give us a call and we can send you a copy.

Although this is not the most popular topic, it is one we will all have to deal with at some point, and those same folks who somehow make it through another day can make sure that fewer problems are left behind after they're gone. And the folks I've known will try to take care of this "detail" also. After all, it's their determination that's taken them this far!

Senior Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634/888-571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/888-571-6557

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