By Barbara Wells
The Meridian Star
Are you in transition? This question is not specifically directed at baby boomers, although they are surely in a state of transition now – moving from middle age to seniorhood. My sister is snappier now than when she was dieting – practically all the time! (I feel closer to her now than ever before.) Going online to see what Googling would tell me about the “T” word, I found that there is a book on the subject: "Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges." This publication claims to "provide strategies for coping with the difficult, painful and confusing times in your life." That is certainly a book I could have used the first year after college ... and several years since.
A program on the radio this weekend about various religious affiliations spoke of one certain group which did not refer to a person’s death, but rather their transition – having passed from this life into another (hopefully better) one. After all, death is not necessarily the end, depending on your belief system. Isn’t it a better expression, much like a passing or crossing over? Whichever, our own death is not an easy topic to begin to talk about.
Consequently, we held a workshop on living wills at Meridian Activity Center with Meridian attorney George Culpepper and RSVP Director Diana Glover. Culpepper spoke to us about the legal ramifications of such documents and Glover notarized the forms we filled out. Also known as Advance Health Care Directive, a living will allows you to assign someone to make health care decisions for you should you be unable to do so. It also allows you to make specific instructions about your health care. This is an opportunity to express your feelings about applying treatment to keep you alive, such as artificial nutrition and hydration, as well as providing pain relief. The forms we used came from a website specifically directed by Mississippi laws.
For these forms to be considered legal "and binding," they should either be notarized in the presence of a notary public or signed in front of two witnesses –who also sign the documents. A copy should be in your medical file and in a place where family and/or friends can find it.
Another thing, if you have any kind of relationship with your physician, let him or her know your wishes. If they have their own ideas about a comatose patient and no family member is present to refer to a living will, the doctor would probably insert a feeding tube. It is difficult for doctors to be absolutely positive about what the comatose patient perceives. They therefore order feeding tube as a matter of routine to appease distraught family members, and/or as a way of hastening discharge from the hospital to a nursing home and reducing expenses.
In the case of Israeli politician and general Ariel Sharon – who had been in a coma and on a feeding tube since suffering a stroke in 2006 – his sons felt there was still some brain function and insisted on aggressive treatment, as their father "looks at me and moves fingers when I ask him to." In 2010, they removed him from the hospital and took him home. (American socialite Sunny von Bulow was stayed in such a state for 28 years until her death in 2008.)
It is a lot to consider, but best to talk it over with loved ones and your doctor to be sure of what you would want him or her to do. The instructions are quite clear on the forms we have downloaded and you may add any other wishes you chose to make. Call me at the center if you have any questions.
Upcoming MAC events
The center will be closed tomorrow in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Classes began on Jan. 6, but it is still not too late to join one – particularly exercise. Slimnastics and Zumba are both offered at 4:30 in the afternoon, so you can shake it a little and get some aerobics and heart rhythm moving.
Lauderdale County Council on Aging is sponsoring a fundraiser for our “May Older Americans Month” activities. We will be selling $25 tickets for delicious barbecue smoked pork butts, which will be ready for pickup on Feb 1 or Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Aldersgate Retirement Community, 6600 Poplar Springs Drive. Come to the Meridian Activity Center for a ticket, or see any member of the Council on Aging board. It’s for a really good cause.
Our iPad and iPhone classes have been so successful we now have people requesting a workshop on Kindle Fire or NOOK. Is there anyone out there with time to show us a thing or two?
Ladies mark your calendars on Feb. 4 for the recycled crochet plastic bag demonstration. Guest instructor Glenda Rank will begin at 9:30 a.m. This is a one-time free class; no reservation is required.
Local Woodmen of the World local representatives have volunteered to sponsor a Special Party Bingo on the on Jan. 30. Beginning at noon, they will serve a light lunch so come prepared. Bingo will follow at the usual 1 p.m. time. Area seniors are all invited to attend.
Meridian Activity Center is still the "best kept secret" in Meridian. Although word and directions are getting around, as we have several new students from Philadelphia and Newton this session!
We are located off 29th Avenue and 36th Street at 3300 32nd Ave. (in the old Lamar School building). Look for our signs along the way. If you get lost, phone me at (601) 485-1812.
• Barbara Wells is director of Meridian Activity Center. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org