About a dozen community partners in Barrington have received a great response so far to a new campaign they launched last week calling us all to consider how we would like to be treated if we get seriously ill or injured in an accident and we couldn’t speak for ourselves. They’re challenging us to think about what our “wishes” would be at end of life and how can we share those “wishes” with our loved ones in advance.
The initiative is called BeatAtEase and it’s backed by organizations like the Barrington Area Council on Aging, Barrington 220 Schools, the Village of Barrington, Barrington Area Library and JourneyCare (formerly Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois), to name a few.
The focus is this 12 page form they’re making available to all of us who live in zip code 60010, free of charge, called “Five Wishes“. In the form, you fill out your answers to these five things…
1. The person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t
2. The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want
3. How Comfortable I Want to Be
4. How I Want People to Treat Me
5. What I Want My Loved Ones to Know
The Five Wishes form is a legally binding document produced by a national, non-profit organization called Aging with Dignity. Over 5,000 copies of the form in print and 10,000 copies online are being made available to us in Barrington…
That’s thanks to funds raised by Barrington bicyclist, Bob Lee, in his 2,000 mile Pacific coast Ride for 3 Reasons last year when he raised over $850,000 for ALS, Cancer and Hospice.
Some of the Hospice funds he raised are being used to support this campaign.
Bob says even our last days can be good days if we plan appropriately. “I guarantee we’re all going to die. Most of us have no idea how that’s going to happen. If the unexpected comes and we can’t speak for ourselves and if we haven’t laid out our plans properly, we leave our loved ones up in the air and it’s just more traumatic for everyone.”
Bob says his own mom’s passing was a little bit easier because he and his sister took the time to talk about her end of life wishes with her at a family reunion celebrating her 80th birthday.
“So when it was her time, I knew my mom was ready to go and there was no need to take extraordinary measures to keep her alive. We knew that’s what mom wanted.”
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and the Barrington Area Ministerial Association are also among the community partners behind the BeAtEase cause, calling Five Wishes a “gift” to the medical and church communities here in Barrington.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for the church to come back to this conversation and really teach people about life, human dignity, death, the dying process and hope in the midst of a medical or any other kind of crisis.”
– Tom Burns, Barrington Area Ministerial Association
“People are confronted with health crises that are unanticipated. So if they have made these decisions or had these discussions beforehand, it clears the air regarding the approach we should take going forward with their health problems. It allows us to understand what their wishes are.”
– Dr. Bruce Carlson, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
But having those conversations about your end of life wishes is the hard part. “Because we think we’re going to live forever and that death is just something that happens to everybody else. Death is just a topic that we’re not comfortable with in our society.” That’s Barrington Area Council on Aging Executive Director Joyce Palmquist’s take. She knows well how divisive a loved one’s passing can be when there are unanswered questions.
“Families find themselves in situations where they have to make a decision about a loved one’s end of life care right now. They have an hour or maybe a day, they haven’t talked beforehand about what to do and it’s heart wrenching. You can’t change the outcome if a person’s going to pass away. But what you can change is the journey.”
Here are three first steps you can take toward changing the journey:
Think About It
Visit BeAtEase.org to learn more about what to consider in articulating your end of life wishes.
Put it in Writing
Share it with Others
Be sure to share your Five Wishes document with your loved ones, doctor and church. To find simple suggestions for best ways and times to broach the subject with family members, CLICK HERE to consider the “5 D’s Guide” or visit TheConversationProject.org.