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Talking about end of life decisions

Published On: Nov 15 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 16 2012 07:16:48 PM EST

This is National Hospice Month and doctors at St Luke's Hospice are urging everyone to think about end of life decisions.

This is National Hospice Month and doctors at St Luke's Hospice are urging everyone to think about end of life decisions.

They say we should use the time with our families this holiday season to start a conversation about the subject.

Wesley and Althea Sell of Emmaus, who have been married 57 years, have thought long and hard about how they want their lives to end. They both carry these advanced directive cards in their wallets.


Those cards read: " I have directed that if any accident or disease leaves no reasonable potential for a fully meaningful life, no artificial means, medicines or aids should be used to pursue a mere physical existence."

Dr. Jenni Levy, Medical Director of St Luke's Hospice in Bethlehem, wishes everyone would discuss end of life decisions with their families and put their wishes in writing.
Dr. Levy says, "It's not really about the technology, it's about what do you want and what's quality of life mean to you."

Wesley Sell says he and Althea have talked about this subject with their children and their lawyer. They have the legal documents in place to outline how what they want and don't want from their doctors in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident.

Wesley says, "I don't want somebody else to make these decisions for me. I want to make the decisions."

Dr.Levy says without advanced directives, a medical team can have difficulty trying to figure out exactly what a patient might want.

She says when someone comes to a hospice center like this one with clear wishes, the whole process is much easier for everyone, including that person's family.

She says, "This is still a difficult process but they know they've done the right thing.

They know what that person would want and it takes a real burden off of them."

Althea worries about her three children. She wants to make sure they don't have any difficulties in the event that she can't care for herself any longer.

"I think the most important thing for me is that we make our passing easy for our children," Althea says.

Dr. Levy says you can download a legal document called The Five Wishes. It includes a living will and a document to appoint a person to make decisions for you should you be unable.  The document is legal in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Engage with Grace is another recommended website.  There is another website she says is helpful.  It includes questions to begin the conversation with your loved ones.