We hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving yesterday!! Today’s post comes from an NPR story featured today about the importance of talking to your elderly loved ones while they’re here for the Holidays about planning for the future.
Two years ago my mom fell at home and ended up being admitted to the ICU with four broken ribs and internal injuries. She was lucky. After two weeks in the hospital and a few more in a rehab unit she was back home, using her new blue walker to get around.
I think of that each Thanksgiving as I make pies just the way she taught me, grateful that she’s still with us and that she’s told us how she wants to die
Before she was discharged, Mom signed a POLST form, short for a Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. I’d heard of advance directives, which spell out the kind of medical care a person would want if they become too ill to communicate those wishes. But I’d never heard of POLST.
In Oregon, where my mother lives, it’s a one-page piece of pink paper that bluntly asks if you want to have CPR performed if your heart stops and you’re not breathing. Three other check boxes ask how much medical intervention you want: going to the hospital and an intensive care unit; perhaps the hospital but no ICU; or skip the hospital altogether. A third question asks if you want to be fed through a tube. That’s it.
Because it’s signed by a doctor or other provider, a POLST has teeth. It overrides the legal obligation of an EMT or a hospital to provide CPR and other emergency care that for old and sick people can lead to a long, miserable hospital stay.
“It’s not for healthy people,” says Dr. Susan Tolle, director […]