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December 16, 2013 
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From the Editor's Pen Gary Barg • Editor-in-Chief • gary@caregiver.com

Gary Barg
Board of Directors:
End-of-Life Decisions

With apologies to Sir Paul McCartney, the last chapter in my book, The Fearless Caregiver, is entitled “And in the End” for reasons other than my simply being a Beatles fan. As you continue your Board of Director conversations with family members with whom you are spending the holidays, one of the most important conversations will be about all-important end-of-life decisions. I do understand that these are the most challenging meetings to hold since we generally do not want to talk of our loved one’s passing. But, as the CEO of Caring for Your Loved One, Inc., it is something you must help your family members face with all of the best and most pertinent information in hand.

For my family, the opportunity to make the pre-need choices for my dad before he passed allowed us to not have to face these decisions immediately during those intensely painful moments surrounding his passing. One of the end-of-life choices that you can make actually allows your loved one to help future generations through clinical trials dealing with diabetes, spinal injuries, joint replacements, cancer research, osteoporosis, colon and liver treatments, advanced drug delivery and Alzheimer’s research, among many others. This is called whole body donation. We had an all-encompassing conversation about this topic at a recent Fearless Caregiver Conference where many misconceptions were dispelled and attendees were able to discover yet another option to share with their loved ones as they discuss end-of-life decisions. Some of the attendees said that they will discuss whole body donations with their family members during the holidays and, in fact, some said that they will actually be having these conversations with the loved one for whom they care.

Some of what we learned about the concept was that there are a wide array of people who meet the criteria for donation, including people living with cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Plus, choices can be made for both whole body donor and organ donation. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. By donating to research, our loved ones can live on by allowing doctors and medical students the ability to research new life-saving medical and surgical procedures and techniques. And (to our surprise) we learned that there is no cost to the donor or family. It was also surprising to learn that, with only a few exceptions, all of the major religions affirm and celebrate organ and tissue donation. 

The truth is that only you, your family members and possibly the loved one for whom you care know what the best option is regarding end-of-life decisions. But, as in everything to do with being a fearless family caregiver, being prepared with all of the available options is always the very best course to take.As Sir Paul would say, “All you need is love.” (But, having the best available information couldn’t hurt either.) 



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