By Jeri L. Ashley, MSN, RN, AOCNS, CHPN
As part of my job as a clinical nurse specialist in a large medical complex in the eastern part of the United States, I was asked to review charts to examine the events surrounding the deaths of 20 patients. Within one chart, I met a female patient named Ms. Lily who was 103 years old. I marveled at the resilience of a life that had lasted so long. It seemed to me that this was a life that needed to be celebrated; however, what I discovered was a woman who on her last day of living underwent not one – but three emergency codes because her heart had stopped. My eyes filled with tears as I grieved this woman’s death. She died while she was separated from her family and friends and was receiving aggressive life-prolonging treatment by strangers. My thought was, “There has got to be a better way!” That started my journey to learn more about life planning.
Life planning is the process of planning how to live well during serious illness. Baptist has offered its employees the gift and benefit of a life plan called Five Wishes. Five Wishes is the most popular life plan, or living will, in America. And if you will notice, it is a LIFE PLAN – not a plan to prepare for death! Read on to learn more…
None of us wants to think about being seriously ill, especially when the illness may result in our death; however, 50 percent of Americans will be unable to make their own decisions while seriously ill. Leaving these decisions to others makes us vulnerable to receive medical treatments and care that may not be in alignment with the way we desire to live. Further, research has shown us that family members are unprepared for these crisis-laden decisions and suffer for years following them with guilt and second-guessing.
The time for completion of a life plan and for a discussion with your family is now – for one never knows when serious illness will occur. And Baptist has once again stepped forward to assist with the process of life planning. First, the Five Wishes Phone Assistance Line has been started. Simply call 901-415-3464 and leave a message with your name and phone number. A Five Wishes trainer will return your call within 24 hours. If you have not received a copy of Five Wishes, call that same number and indicate your name, work location and phone number so that a Five Wishes can be sent to you. Finally, if there is a group of employees that wants information in a small group setting, leave that same message on the number above. Baptist is committed to getting Five Wishes into your hands! Call now: 901-415-3464.
As Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Each day is a gift and we are called to be good stewards of the days of our lives. That entails recognizing our limited number of days and managing that time so we live well to the very last day. Remember Ms. Lily and plan now!