What's in Your Plan? Stories

Tips to make your advance directive useful and usable

I would like to die at home, in my bed, with my cats beside me.

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Dr. David Amies: When it comes to end-of-life wishes, one must always be on guard

Life is full of chores: making our beds, changing our socks and doing the dishes. Such chores ought to be done daily for the good of one’s self-esteem! Of course, there are others that have far greater import, but do not crop up so regularly. I refer to making a will and an advanced healthcare plan.

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Dr. Sue Hughson: 3 things I learned while completing my advance care directive

I first thought about the importance of advance care planning after I became a supporter of Dying With Dignity Canada. As a mother of two children, I needed to think not only about end of life, but also the unforeseen circumstances that pop up in daily life.

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Advance care planning: When a patient's wishes are ignored

Carrie is 68 and has been in a psychiatric unit for more than a year for a severe somatoform disorder. She feels excruciating pain every moment of every day, but there is absolutely no physical reason for the pain (every test that could be done has been done to rule out a cause). She is begging for medical assistance in dying (MAID), but she does not meet the current guidelines.

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Ellen's story

When Ellen Agger’s mother was diagnosed with dementia in 1996, both of their lives were suddenly changed overnight.

Thrust into the caregiver role for her mother, Ellen spent the next year and a half swept up in the overwhelming ebbs and flows that come with caring for a parent. Time and time again she was called upon to make decisions on behalf of her mother — and time and time again she was expected to know the answers.

Unlike so many others, however, Ellen and her mother had spoken about their wishes for end of life. More than 10 years before her mother’s diagnosis, they worked on their living wills together and had conversations about their desires and wishes for end of life. These conversations, Ellen says, ultimately gave her direction as she made decisions on her mother's behalf.

The following excerpts were taken from a radio piece Ellen created for CBC Upfront called “Dementia Diary.” In her own raw and honest words, Agger remembers the final months of her mother’s life: the stress and emotional turmoil, the pain and relief of letting go, and being at peace with the decisions made. 

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