Imagine you’re making a pot of soup. It’s a family favorite that has been passed down for generations. Now add in four people who all want to help cook that soup. They each have their own memories of what was in the soup so they each add their own thing without consulting the others. No one can agree on the right recipe to follow and when they finally taste the finished product, it is inedible. Every time you throw in a few more soup lovers with individual opinions, tastes and thoughts well… in the end there’s nothing worth posting or taking photos of because it was terrible.

This is what’s happening with my dying friend. She appointed too many people with shared responsibilities so that decision making is torturous. The doctors are angry because they want only one contact but if one person handles medical and a different person handles finances and they have to agree, and two other people are also involved in approving, then who makes the final call? The reality I’m watching is no one makes the call!

Over the last few months I have been watching my friend’s family members swoop in to try to take care of her. I am outside the circle and do not have all the information other than what has been provided to me by the inside circle but I am learning lessons. The people that care the most and are doing the most are not the decision makers, unfortunately.

Add in some worries about finances and how long my friend will live and what will happen to her money and the result is constant chaos and distress circling my sick friend. My friend is not receiving optimal, expedient care and is probably going to die very soon. So there is no point in getting into legal battles or fighting for guardianship because it would take too long and eat up a chunk of her money (and possibly our own). Not to mention that blatant efforts to circumvent the plans and people with official power will cause undo stress and negative energy in a house that should be holding healing energy and be peaceful.

So those of us who care deeply are stepping back and not rocking the boat because the money being manipulated and moved right now is going to go to the family eventually. I don’t think my friend will outlive her money so in the long run, it won’t matter. What is important though is to use the lessons here to advise other people:

Lesson #1: Be sure to clearly state your wishes, in WRITING, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

Lesson #2: Appoint one person to be in charge of communicating to the doctors, lawyers, financial people. You can have others involved but one person is spokesperson.

Lesson #3: Have a conversation with your spokesperson (and others) to be clear about what you want and how you want decisions to be made on your behalf in various situations:

  • unable to think
  • unable to communicate
  • in pain
  • if treatment to extend your life will impact the quality of your life/cause pain or side effects
  • if you are running out of money
  • if you can’t walk or talk or are paralyzed or can’t hear or see

In my book, I’ll Be Right There: A Guidebook for Adults Caring for their Aging Parents, all the questions to discuss and how to have these conversations is explained to keep peace and harmony.

For anyone you choose as your representative (Durable Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Executor) consider the following:

  1. Consent: Be sure to ask the people you’d like to take on the role if they are okay with that.
  2. Skills: Ask yourself, do the people you’re selecting have the experience, and mental and physical capacity to take on the role you’re assigning?
  3. Information:  Have you discussed your wishes with your selected team to make sure they understand them? Have you documented your wishes in writing and had those pages notarized or signed by witnesses?
  4. Notification: Keep your emergency contact people on your phone and on a card in your wallet so those helping you (EMS, neighbors, hospital) will know who to call.

If you have any questions, reach out to and I’m happy to answer to the best of my knowledge.

Please also send me info if you have any other valuable advice to share!

#IllBeRightThere, #caregiver, #EmergencyContact, #AssignedRepresentative