Critical Conversations: Talking & Planning On What Matters Most
The peace and tranquility of the OhioHealth Kobacker House was the last home of Robert Early.
“I’ve known him since we were 14. I met him the first week of ninth grade. So to me, he was always Bobby," Margaret Early, Robert's widow said.
Margaret Early’s husband suffered a stroke in 2013. When he could speak, they talked about what came next, and how he wanted to die.
“I think at the time when you have these conversations with your loved one, there’s a part of you that still doesn’t think this is ever going to happen," Margaret said.
Three years later, Robert grew very sick. When his organs began to fail, a nurse gave Margaret the bad news.
“She sat down next to me and she took my hand and she said, ‘He’s leaving you. He’s not going to make it," Margaret said
She moved her beloved Bobby to OhioHealth’s hospice, Kobacker House, the inpatient facility for OhioHealth Hospice. There, they provide care and ease pain for the dying. Faith Community Relations director, Kristin Langstraat, says most of us don’t like to think about death, but it’s vital that we plan for it.
“Write down your wishes. It could happen tomorrow," Langstraat said.
That means having critical conversations with loved ones and care providers. Do you want food and water? Do you want artificial nutrition or hydration? What are you wishes for pain medications and other medical treatments, how do you want to spend your final days with family.
And who speaks for you, if you cannot?
“We want to make sure that their families have those documents that they know who the decision maker is, that they agree with the decisions," Kristin said.
She says advance directives should go to doctors and be placed in medical records. At Kobacker House there are staff members available to help in decisions made at the end of life.
“The staff is providing the care, but they may have some questions about does this need to go forward, do we need to stop, and the ethicists guide them through that," Kristin said.
OhioHealth bereavement counselor Pamela Gompf says that way, after patients die, families have an easier time dealing with loss.
“People who are prepared, are more at peace with those decisions," Pamela said.
Pamela’s team helps Hospice families for 13 months after a death. They offer everything from support groups, to one-on-one counseling.
“People have a safe place to feel whatever it is that they feel. And that in itself helps them cope when they know that they’re listened to," Pamela said.
Since we all will die, the women say it’s vital that we find the courage to discuss with our families how we want to go.
“Is it important to them that they can walk or talk or interact with people? Is it only important to them that they can just lay there and feel sunshine on their face," Margaret said.
“They have to have peace in knowing that they did everything that they could do and they made the right decisions," Kristin added.
Or to learn more about the critical conversations families should be having, click here.