I've got lots of time to get my affairs in order. I have just retired, and I need to enjoy life before I start thinking about dying!
Talking about or writing your Will and any other related responsibilities does not mean you are going to die. It is part of personal planning that should be done whenever one has children and/or assets valued at more than 25 thousand dollars. If you die and you do not have a Will in place, the courts in BC will decide who will look after your children, administer your estate and distribute your assets.
Why do I need an advance care plan? I have a power of attorney in place.
Many people mistakenly think that having a power of attorney in place will take care of their health and personal care at the end of life. A Power of attorney document only looks after your financial and legal matters. In BC, a representation agreement looks after your health and personal care matters. Without a representation agreement, healthcare staff may refer to and use a legislated priority list of temporary substitute decision-makers to act on your behalf, which may not be in your best interest.
I have no desire to put together my funeral plans. It just seems to be such an unpleasant and difficult task.
Death is not a subject that we are comfortable talking about. However, it is a fact that we will all die. Having some plans in place will make the job easier for those left behind, as some of the guesswork will be eliminated. When your wishes are known, the potential for family conflict and overspending will likely be reduced as well. Funeral planning in advance is also an opportunity for you to impart final legacies to those in your life. Click on this link to watch inspiring music videos that help get those conversations and start the learning.
I've bought the Guide and started filling out the required pages but have now hit a wall - help!
If this sounds like you, please consider subscribing to our Orderly Affairs Guide newsletter free of charge. This newsletter is sent bi-weekly and will encourage you to continue working on the tasks outlined in the Guide. Content from previous newsletters can be found on our website blog site.
You can also sign up for an information session (also found on the Contact Us tab) where you will hear others talk about their stumbling blocks, get support from the facilitator to address those and carry on!
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What is the difference between a power of attorney and an enduring power of attorney document?
Like the power of attorney, an enduring power of attorney document authorizes a person of your choice to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf when you are capable and has the authority to continue to act or endure, should you become mentally incapable. Without an enduring power of attorney document in place, if you should become mentally incapacitated, a power of attorney document becomes void. In this scenario, the court could assign someone to act for you. By completing an enduring power of attorney, you allow that agent to continue or endure the power of attorney duties, regardless of your mental capabilities.
I know I should get my affairs in order sooner than later, but it is so difficult to have these conversations. So how do I get started?
Consider purchasing the "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" deck of cards produced by Victoria Hospice. The cards are meant to be chosen randomly to help facilitate meaningful discussion and reflection in whatever environment works best for you, whether at home with friends or family or in a community setting like Death Cafes at local libraries.
Another way to increase your "Death literacy" is to review websites that frankly speak about the value of having these important conversations. You can also contact Daralynn to talk about end-of-life education and planning.
What is a Representation Agreement?
A Representation Agreement is a legal document in B.C. that you use to designate someone to communicate your health and personal care wishes when you are considered incapable of making your own decisions and cannot express yourself. It is best to prepare your Representation Agreement when you are not in a health care crisis and can decide what kind of care you would prefer, should it be required. A standard Representation Agreement is designed to allow you to make changes easily and without the need for the witness of legal representatives.
Why do I need a Will?
A Will takes the guesswork and pressure off of loved ones and provides you with peace of mind while still alive knowing your estate will transition smoothly, whether it be assets or with the custody of a child.
Five key reasons to have a Will:
How do I revoke my current Representation Agreement?
Changes to your section 9 Representation Agreement can be made by revoking your current version and creating a new Agreement. A revocation notice must first be given to each representative named on your current agreement. Revocation is effective as per the date on the revocation notice. As with your first Representation Agreement, you must be capable of making this decision at the time of signature. For more information on the procedures to revoke (cancel) a Representation Agreement and a copy of the form itself, please visit the Nidus website.
Where can I get a template to create my emergency wallet card?
A wallet card indicating the name of your Representative who can speak for you if you are incapable of doing so yourself can be very helpful if you have a medical emergency in a location where your advance care planning documents would not be available. Use the wallet template from the Advance Care Planning Canada website to have in your possession at all times, in the event of an emergency.
I'm 75 years old and feeling good - why do I need an advance care plan?
An advance care plan is not simply about the end-of-life. It's about what treatments you would elect in the event of a medical or health care emergency which can happen at any age (but the likelihood does increases with age). Advance care planning considers your beliefs, values, and wishes which can change over time. In BC, it is easy to set up a plan that expresses your wishes through such documents as an Advance Directive or a Representation Agreement.
Why do I need to put a green envelope on my refrigerator?
When visiting a home on an emergency call, paramedics in BC will look for a copy of your advance care planning documents, typically found in a magnetized green envelope on your refrigerator. If you cannot or do not want to put them there, provide a clear note on the refrigerator as to where the documents can be easily found. Originals of your advance care planning documents should be kept separately in a secure place in your primary residence and your Representative should be made aware of that location.
My mom was recently admitted to the hospital and given a MOST form to complete; this was traumatic! What is this form, and why is it necessary?
As of May 2017, all Provincial Health Authorities have implemented Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) for all adult patients admitted to hospital or residential and community care facilities. The MOST form is a doctor’s order and must only be signed by a capable patient or their Representative, or in case of emergency, a Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM). A MOST identifies one of six designations for the scope of treatment. These designations guide your healthcare team on adult resuscitation status, critical care, and medical interventions. It is used to quickly inform other medical providers of your wishes around the scope of treatment, usually in a medical emergency, such as a cardiac arrest, when you are incapable of giving or refusing consent for treatment.
What is the Frail Elder Index?
What is the state of your health? It sounds like a simple question, but one most people don’t have the right answer for. Most of us also think we are healthier than we really are – this is because change often comes on slowly - and we adapt. And we all age differently. Some people in their 60s are frailer than others in their 80s. The BC healthcare system has determined that the age of 65 is when they first start to consider you as a potentially ‘frail elder’, and when additional medical services may be necessary. Frailty is associated with several factors which may be reversible or preventable to improve or delay serious outcomes. The Frail Elder Index is a questionnaire used by our healthcare system to gauge your state of health. Having an honest understanding of our state of health also prepares us to have much better discussions with our doctors and healthcare teams.
Quantity vs Quality of Life
Adults will often say they want quality of life over quality. However, the family will usually choose quantity over quality of life. Quality of life typically refers to enjoying a good life. Quantity of life typically refers to having a prolonged life, regardless of our capacity to enjoy that life. In terms of advance care planning, what do you want for your future self if you are seriously ill at end-of-life? When the people you trust know what is important to you about future healthcare treatments, it is easier for them to make decisions on your behalf, should they need to. Knowing your values and beliefs will help shape your preferences for care. It often seems “too soon” to think and talk about our wishes… until it’s too late. Far too many older, frail adults spend their last days in critical care units, on ventilators and full life support because they have not discussed their wishes with loved ones and their doctors.
As the pallbearers gently laid the coffin on the stark wooden platform at the start of the funeral service, I felt a deep, aching sadness at the loss of one of my oldest friends. More than that, though, I was hit with a real sense that something fundamental had changed in my life. He was a fine man, and our friendship had weathered the test of time. As part of a group of carefree 20-year-olds, we lived life in the moment. Tomorrow was another day. We believed we were immortal. But, of course, we weren't, and his funeral 50 years later made me truly realize that I no longer had the security of infinite time ahead of me. At 77 years old, I was facing my own mortality. "Tomorrow" had become "today."
Continuing to drift along or defer tasks was no longer a viable option. Oh, I tackled the obvious practical things that tend to be pushed onto the back burner. I even finished the circuit breaker list by the electrical panel that I'd been "working on" for the last 10 years. But on a deeper level, my friend's death made me think about where I wanted to go from here, and I concluded it boiled down to a simple equation: if I no longer had the quantity of life, I had to concentrate on the quality. Apart from the normal aches and stiffness anyone my age has to expect, I still regard myself as healthy and active but, of course, I have to accept the relentless march of time.
I was determined to return to a kinder, gentler existence, to try to reconnect with the simpler parts of life that I'd pushed aside in dealing with the stress generated by today's high-paced and, to me, almost alien digital world. I would attempt to focus more on the personal over the practical; the calming over the confrontational; even the silly over the sensible.
I started small. My wife and I upgraded a routine errand by adding on a walk to the coffee shop and home via a rest on a bench in the park. I found myself relishing the simple gesture of holding her hand. And I'm no green thumb, but I managed to plant enough vegetables that we've been able to add a tantalizing variety of fresh treats to dinner. I returned to occasionally sitting on the deck with just my coffee, no phone, in the near peace of the early morning. In doing so, I rediscovered the positive boost it can give to a day, simply catching the scent of a rose, listening to the rustle of the high branches, and watching a robin pull furiously at a worm. Sitting in the gazebo on a wet day, I noticed the gentle, rhythmic ping of raindrops on the metal roof produced such a hypnotic effect that I could just drift and let the weight of material things slip from my mind.
Of course, I still have to live in the real, hard world with all of its problems. None of that is ever going to change, but now it's just that little bit easier to take because I've been able to craft a new, quite simple safety net that allows me to put things into their proper perspective.
I miss my friend dearly. But, realized in the sadness of a painful farewell, the ability to simplify my life has proven to be an enduring gift — his final gift — and for that, I thank him.
Do you have concerns about elder abuse?
The Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) is a confidential information line for older adults and those who care about them to speak to a professional intake worker about abuse, mistreatment and any issues that impact the health and well-being of older adults in BC.
SAIL is available on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 5:30 pm, excluding statutory holidays. Language interpretation is available. SAIL intake workers can assist with:
If you are calling SAIL from the Lower Mainland, please call 604-437-1940. Toll-Free 1-866-437-1940 for callers located in the rest of BC, Canada, or NA.
For more information on elder abuse, please visit the Seniors First BC website.