Our Advocacy Manager shares her perspective following two recent 1:1 sessions with older people

It is interesting the differing views and attitudes of older people towards their End of Life Rights, and the End of Life in general. We have spoken to people who do not wish to even think about it to others who relish the opportunity to make sure that ‘everything is order’. The common misconception appears to be that the project is about a person’s will, with frequent comments being ‘oh, I’ve done my will’ or ‘I’m in the process of doing my will’. We have taken to simply saying ‘your will is for when you are dead, the Advance Decision (AD) and Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) are for before you die’. This seems to clear up any confusion and when said with an injection of humour just some way to address a very sensitive and often difficult topic.

Two interactions last week with Older People proved to be very positive but also served to show what a big area this is.

Both people wanted to make sure that they had their affairs in order and thinking about ensuring their views and wishes would be known were as big a part of their thinking as the need to make their Wills. The refreshing attitude of one person ‘I have had a good life and done a lot of things, I can’t live forever’ was an interest contrast to those people we speak to who clearly say ‘I don’t want to think about that, not whilst I’m healthy’.

The interesting aspect of the interactions last week were that both older people came with the view that they wanted to do an LPA but following discussions they are now considering whether an Advance Decision might be more appropriate for them. When we asked one of them what, for them, is the situation they do not want to be in they replied quite simply: ‘I do not want to end up unable to do things for myself, unable to communicate with other people. If someone has to help me get dressed or feed me or other things like that I do not want that. For me it is the quality of life that is the most important thing’. In both cases the older people had at least one person they could nominate to be their attorney. This is not often the case. A lot of people we discuss the project with do not have someone they can nominate and we have also come across quite a few older people who have family but who do not want them having a say in their affairs.

For the two people we saw last week, one has chosen to complete an Advance Decision rather than an LPA and that task will be started later this week. For the other person a home visit has been requested (following two initial telephone conversations) to discuss the subject more and hopefully inform them enough to be able to decide whether they do an LPA or an AD.

It seems that the decisions of whether or not to put one’s views & wishes in writing is perhaps not as hard as ‘but which one do I do?’

If this is something you are struggling with then you might find this link helpful Advance Decision or LPA – which is right for you?