The aging process is not for the faint of heart. It rushes forth without our willing consent. As we age and watch our loved ones age we are reminded of our true powerlessness. Part of having a family is facing these challenges together, loving and supporting each other through the good times, challenging times and painful times.
With all this holiday festivity, it may be hard to understand how there's room for anything but Merry; yet every year I struggle with mixed emotions. As much as I want to embrace all the cheer around me, I also feel stressed by all the preparations; I miss my family and the memories of Christmases past.
There are so many positive stories of people who are able to live out their final weeks and months with dignity and comfort because compassionate and highly trained hospice teams are there to provide comprehensive care, from pain management and skilled nursing to help with processing personal end-of-life goals and emotions.
An excellent death as the capstone to a life well lived requires some forethought and planning. But what if a patient is unresponsive and has not previously expressed or documented his/her wishes? The "15-Minute Test" is a helpful guide for those who have to make end-of-life decisions on behalf of their loved ones.