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End-of-life planning need not be 'doom and gloom': seniors' group

03/12/2015 09:20 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
The high-profile case of 83-year old Margot Bentley has many British Columbians questioning how they can ensure their end-of-life wishes are honoured.

Bentley has late-stage Alzheimer's disease and is being spoon-fed at a care home, despite her family saying that it goes against wishes that are laid out in Bentley's living will.

The family recently lost their case at the B.C. Court of Appeal, and the outcome has brought into question the validity of living wills in B.C., and what people can do to ensure their wishes are honoured.

While there are other legal options available to British Columbians, such as Representation Agreements, the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia says it's most important to communicate your wishes to loved ones.

Here is president Lorraine Logan's advice on broaching a discussion about end-of-life plans with your family:

Don't be afraid of the conversation

"Say, 'Hey, John, or Judy, have I ever talked to you about how I want to have this handled at the end of my time?'" said Logan.

"It doesn't have to be doom and gloom. It can be part of a conversation and it can actually be quite humorous."

Be very specific about what you want

"It is your life, so … make it very clear what you want and have them repeat that back to you," said Logan.

"Whatever their beliefs may be, other than keeping you alive for whatever reason, they don't want to see you in pain … they want to see you be comfortable, and you do, too."

Have everyone on the same page

"One of the worst things is you have three children, two of whom know what you want, the other one not too sure,"  said Logan

"Then it gets into a big discussion at the end of life about what to do with Mom or Grandma or Dad." 

To hear the full discussion about end-of-life care, click on the audio labelled: Conversation with family about end-of-life planning is crucial, says advocate.

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