I am a navigator today because of lessons learned in my own life experiences with my family.Facing end of life is not easy but completing the advanced directives early on can be a step in the right direction. A direction for peace, understanding and compassion.
As is the custom in many families, my mother, being the youngest of her siblings, was the one responsible for caring for my elderly aunt. As my aunt’s health was declining, there were a lot of decisions to be made about where to get treatment and what type of treatment she should receive. The options were very limited due to living in a rural area. In an effort to help my mother, I began looking in the metro area, trying to find the best care for my aunt. At this time, I was communicating with her son and other family members for guidance but no one would establish a plan. Her health declined rapidly and she ended up in the hospital. There was nothing else they could do. It pained my mother and I to see her like this. Her son was notified that she near death and everything was done to keep her alive. When he arrived at the hospital, it was too late, she had died just moments before. We harbored negative feelings related to what happened to my aunt and went several years without speaking.
My aunt didn’t want heroic measures, didn’t want to live artificially and wanted to die a complete person. Instead, her journey ended the way we choose because we told her what we were going to do instead of asking her what she wanted. Her quality of life would have been better had we had these discussions earlier. Her end of life could have been happy, at home, and with her family.
I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of asking crucial questions about what my loved one wants to happen at the end of their life, what treatments do they want, and how to honor their beliefs. I learned to have the conversations early on and not to wait for a crisis. The importance of writing their wishes down, so everyone could be on the same page, would help limit family conflicts. Facing end of life is not easy but completing the advanced directives early on can be a step in the right direction. A direction for peace, understanding and compassion.
Maggie is a seasoned and passionate hospice professional, with 16 years of experience in the hospice industry. Her background includes medical social work, 9-years as a team leader / PCC, a hospice office site coordinator, support services coordinator and 1- year experience as a hospice executive director. Maggie previously developed a successful Hispanic outreach program. She currently serves Hospice of the West as a Patient Care Coordinator.