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Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

As I said in my last column: death – our own or our loved one’s – is tough to face, to talk about, and to navigate. But we must. So let’s continue.

Originally, I had planned to give you more information to help you navigate palliative and hospice care, and the service agencies closest to us providing the care of each. But when I came across the website of the Alliance for Living and Dying Well, I wanted to get this information to you ASAP.

The Alliance’s “Get It Done TODAY!” is a “FREE community-wide event to help you complete your Advance Health Care Directive. Trained facilitators, notaries, trained volunteers, and all the materials you need to get the job done will be provided.”

It takes place April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery. Appointments are required, so please visit this valuable resource at www.allianceforlivinganddyingwell.org or contact them at 805-845-5314.

If you’re not already aware, An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document used to provide guidance about what types of general treatment you may want to receive in case of a future, unknown medical emergency. It also documents who can speak for you to make medical treatment decisions when you cannot speak for yourself.

I know firsthand how valuable this process is. Back in 2014, I wrote about the last days of my friend since high school, whom I called my brother. Many years before, he took the time to think through his final wishes. I watched him pass away with dignity for one simple reason: his Advance Health Care Directive.

Aging With Dignity’s “Five Wishes,” is another wonderful resource that will walk you through the process. For more information, go to www.fivewishes.org, call 850-681-2010, or email them at info@fivewishes.org.

For seriously ill patients whose health care professional would not be surprised if they died in the next year, there is a document that I was unaware of until recently. It’s called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. POLST works together with the Advance Directive as an “actionable medical order for the specific medical treatments you want during a medical emergency.”

Section A allows a patient to decide whether or not to attempt resuscitation/CPR.

Section B allows a patient to decide whether the patient wants full treatment, limited/selected treatment, or comfort measures only.

Section C allows the patient to decide about long-term artificial nutrition by tube, defined trial period, or no artificial nutrition by tube.

“It is completed by patient health care professional, and allows patient’s surrogate decision-maker to engage in discussion and update or void form if patient lacks capacity, allows emergency personnel to follow the document, allows patient to retain original with a copy in patient’s medical record and a copy held in state registry.”

California, according to www.polst.org, as of April 2018, is piloting a registry. Look into this additional resource online, call them at 202-780-8352 or email them at info@polst.org.

Two things in life we have no control over: when we are born and the family into which we are born. Over all the rest we do have control – so let’s get this done!

Until next time ... keep thinking the good thoughts.

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Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. Still to come is “Harry’s House” at GIV, for those who need assisted living or memory care. Reach her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. Visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org for more information.

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