Editor's Note: Thanks to a viewer call, the reference to including the DNR provision in your will needs clarification. The DNR provision should be part of a living will or advance directive that is in force while a person is still alive and directs their medical care.
Recently, an elderly woman in California died after a staff member at her living facility refused to give her CPR.
There was a call to nine-one-one and the dispatcher was urging the facility employee to help but she refused. The family of the deceased has indicated that this was their mother's wish, not to be given any life sustaining procedures. However, it was not stated in her will. This type of clause is known as the Do Not Resuscitate or DNR provision.
My mother is in assisted life currently and she has a DNR clause in her will and it is not a complicated event to create such a document. So I hope the family of this woman in California truly knew her wishes, and I am certain there will be more cases like this as the Baby Boomer population marches into retirement and the assisted living arena. But the bottom line is that if no DNR instruction exists, then care givers and really anyone at the scene should certainly give some type of help and not go on what the family's or patient's instructions are at that moment or what they are assumed to be.
It is a recipe for disaster and one that is completely avoidable. So if you have a loved one in assisted living, make the decision with them now and put it in their will. In fact, we should all have this topic addressed in our will. It is the only true way to know a person's wishes.
Our final wishes should be respected and there should be no question about our care when that time comes.
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