Plan While you Still Can: Book Review

I read this book a few years ago, Plan While You Still Can by Donald M. Burrows when I was writing the first Journey’s End book with Julie Saeger Nierenberg. We actually published two checklists in our book as we felt they were that important.

Most shy away from or avoid planning for, thinking about or discussing death and dying-Why? It is a fact that we will all die one day. To be born, you will die. Accept it, embrace it, plan for it, think about it, and do not leave your family and friends trying to guess what you want.

The book is good for individuals, family members, caregivers, support groups, professionals in legal, medical, helping professions, and more!

I am still fairly young, but I work with older adults and I see what happens with my clients, family members, friends, community, and government agencies. Was there a will? If the individuals is ill-what life saving measures do they want? Who gets what possession-wise? What about a funeral-what is the budget?

Things to think about:

  • Do you have an up-to-date phone list? Is the list easily found?
  • If you become ill-do your friends or family participate in medical meetings or appointments? Do they take notes?
  • Have you thought about finances and a power of attorney to manage them should you not be able to? Is your financial information easily found-banks, account numbers?
  • If one is deemed incompetent, who takes over and makes decisions on your behalf? Have you thought about what life saving measures you do and do not want? i.e. oxygen, antibiotics or other medications, surgery, DNR- Do Not Resuscitate, etc.
  • What family or friends should be involved? Who do you want to come and visit you whether in hospital or at home?
  • Do you have life insurance? Did you prepay for burial and funeral?
  • If you die, what kind of burial or funeral do you want? Do you want to be cremated? Do you want a traditional funeral and burial, a green burial, a conservation burial? Is there money to pay for a funeral and burial?
  • Have you discussed with your loved one-what next? After discharge from hospital, home with help, senior residence- public or private? What is the long term plan?
  • Do you or the family have the funds to hire private caregiving help? How much will family or friends assist?
  • Are you an organ donor? Do you want to donate your body to science?

A lot to think about, but important to think about this while you are healthy and well, and you need to put what you want into a will, mandate, and talk to your family/friends about your wishes.

Notaries are not cheap and neither is a lawyer, so do your research. Shop around for one who is reasonably priced, but is good at what they do.