Most people have heard of “advance directives,” “living wills” or “the 5 wishes.” The law allows us to write down and sign our instructions concerning life support medical treatment that we do or do not want should we ever become “incompetent.” We can also appoint someone as our proxy decision-maker to carry out our wishes. These deal only with medical issues.
Why not prepare written advance instructions for lifestyle management that your proxy can carry out later for you should you ever become dependent on others? What activities give you enjoyment in life? Think about your vision of a good old age. What would your preferences be on issues such as place of residence, social activity, recreation, social drinking, smoking, companionship, travel, movies, music, and who you do or don’t want to spend time with? Who are your trusted professionals – your doctors, lawyer, accountant or financial advisor — who you still want on your team? Do you love the beach but dislike parks? Do you love to be surrounded by classical music or by rock and roll? Do you love going to concerts or the theater? Do you prefer opera, hate westerns and enjoy TV spy thrillers? Do you like to go to baseball games and watch sports networks on cable tv? Do you never miss voting in an election? Do you love seeing your friends at the local Y or senior center? Do you need to get outdoors on every sunny day?
These advance directives can be fashioned into a plan for supported decision-making as you age. You identify who will be your helper or coach and who will be your proxy decision–maker. It’s like a “power of Attorney Plus.” You make them part of the discussion and even have them sign onto your plan. Doing this can give you the comfort of knowing that as you age and become more dependent on your children or other trusted person, the life you live will be yours and not someone else’s. For me, keep the radio tuned to rock and roll, but please, no opera …!
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