Tragedy at the end-of-life

Written by on June 18, 2014 in Blog with 0 Comments

The tragedy:  Casey Kasem communicated for 4 decades to his radio audience.  He was a communicator.  He died Sunday from dementia.  However, he failed to communicate with all his family and get all on board with his end-life-wishes.  Result: family dispute that erupted in litigation.

Casey did have an advance directive.  It  said that he didn’t wish any form of life-sustaining procedures.  He didn’t want a mere biological existence devoid of cognitive function.  He appointed his daughter from his first marriage to be his surrogate.  She apparently wanted to stop Kasem’s life sustaining treatment, but Kasem’s second wife didn’t and challenged the daughter’s authority.

The Lessons to be learned:  There are two.  First, there could have been more direction in the advance care directive.  It could have spelled out better the quality of life he wanted or didn’t want.  Most forms of directives don’t do this.  Mine does.  You can find it here:  Advance Directive Form.  But no form is iron-clad.  Dr. Stanley Terman claims to have an “iron-clad strategy” using several forms*.  But read him closely, he admits it is not quite iron-clad.**  Still it is best one can do.

Secondly, the entire family must be on board.  This is my mantra: have those family discussions. With daughters, sons, parents, wives, religious advisors, close friends.  These are more important than the forms, any form.   In these discussions make clear to all what your end-of-life wishes are.  If then, there is one person or even several who do not agree with your wishes, write them out.  State in your directive that so-and-so is not to be involved in any decisions with respect to your care when you can’t care for yourself.  Terman, noted above, states that his ironclad strategy depends on writing his document’s in such a way that no one goes to court.   I add, and I think Terman agrees, that the best way to avoid court is to be sure the family is in agreement with your wishes.

Bill Simmons

*Peaceful Transitions, Stories of Success and Compassion; Plan Now, Die Later – Iron Clad Strategy (2nd ed)(2011).

** Same, page 175.

Credit – Casey Kasem’s end-of-life drama: a lesson for the rest of us”. by Randi Belisomo,  Founder of Life Matters Media.

Follow him on  Twitter @RandiBelisomo


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