Laws vary state by state. Consult the law for your own state. Those of us who are single and with no adult children need to pay special attention to this. Who is the best person for a health care proxy? Is it a relative or is it a friend? Pay attention to the relationship's long-term dynamics as well as to the person's values. You may also write very specific directives. Not all medical situations are the same. Again, check your state laws on this, talk to a medical professional, to your lawyer, or your clergymember or counselor if you feel more comfortable starting there. This post does not constitute either medical or legal advice. (It does constitute Auntie Jane's advice based on life experience and thirty-five years in ministry and other professional work. The link above will give you a basic definition of a health care proxy and health directives.)
All this to preface the news that Deenie's situation is not good at all.
Thanks, by the way, to Helen --in the comments to the previous update --for all the information. Helen, I can't really give all the details of the primary caregiver and family situation. Suffice it to say that it's not as functional as you would want it to be, so your suggestions, while very good, do not exactly apply. And now the situation is about to change drastically.
Against all advice from the hospice and all pleading from Deenie's friends, the family member who has health care proxy for her has decided to move Deenie from her home (where she has a paid caregiver plus friends who visit all the time plus a good neighbor who is a friend and pops in regularly) to a nursing home on the other side of the city.
(Note to Helen: Deenie is no longer capable of making decisions for herself; she is too weak to oppose other people's decisions.)
This family member was not the original person who had the health care proxy. The original person found him/herself too far away geographically, so Deenie changed the health care proxy, picking this particular family member, we are not sure why; perhaps she hesitated to burden a friend, even though her friends are in many ways her family.
The nursing home in question is not a hospice. It is not set up to help people die comfortably and peacefully and in a loving and serene setting. Our friends have done some research about it and it is not an adequate facility. Deenie has always said --as she did when I visited her and she was still compos mentis-- that she wanted to die at home, not in an institution.
Our mutual friend is trying to see what she can do before tomorrow and has gotten in touch with a family member who is truly devoted to Deenie and is also trying to reach Deenie's lawyer of many years (who is terrific) in hopes that one or both may be able to intervene somehow.
The situation is messy and cruel. Our friend writes that she prays Deenie will die before this move can take place against her wishes.
Deenie's 70th birthday is next Monday.
Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.
Lord, you now have set your servant free
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
My soul gives glory to my God.
My heart pours out its praise.
God lifted up my lowliness
in many marvelous ways.
My God has done great things for me:
yes, holy is this name.
All people will declare me blessed,
and blessings they shall claim.
From age to age, to all who fear,
such mercy love imparts,
dispensing justice far and near,
dismissing selfish hearts.
Love casts the mighty from their thrones,
promotes the insecure,
leaves hungry spirits satisfied,
the rich seem suddenly poor.
Praise God, who loving covenant
supports those in distress,
remembering past promises
with present faithfulness.
God of all consolation,
grant to those who sorrow
the spirit of faith and courage,
that they may have the strength to meet the days to come
with steadfastness and patience;
not sorrowing without hope,
but trusting in your goodness;
through him who is the resurrection and the life,
Jesus Christ our Saviour.
(That last one is from the New Zealand Prayer Book.)