While many people do not like to think about end of life decisions, these topics are often not brought up or discussed until it is too late for them to plan ahead, leaving them unable to make informed choices. In response to this need, faith community nurses will host a four-part series on important documents people should prepare - advance directives, wills, power of attorney and funeral preplanning - on Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, held from 7-8:30 p.m. on each date at St. Leo the Great Parish in Amherst.
The four topics discussed during these sessions will be "Introduction to Important Documents," to be performed by the Brainstormers; "Advance Directives and End of Life Decision Making," with Sherry Pomeroy, RN, Ph.D., a faith community nurse, and Father Raymond Corbin, chaplain of Roswell Park Cancer Institute; "Wills and Power of Attorneys," with Joseph Gervase, Esq., a Buffalo attorney specializing in elder law; and "Funeral Preplan," with John Dengler of Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home.
"We make decisions about our lives every single day based on what we think is best. As long as we are healthy and able to make decisions, we can adjust decisions based on outcomes of previous decisions and continue on in life," commented Maureen Couche, RN, a faith community nurse who serves at St. Leo the Great. "The important question is, 'How prepared are you to let someone else step in and make decisions if you are unable to make your own decisions?' Life is fragile and very unpredictable."
According to Couche, the four-part series is intended to "provide attendees with the information and resources, as well as the opportunity to get it done," with session leaders on hand to provide guidance for individuals who would like to begin planning their end-of-life documents if they have not already given any thought to doing so. All four of these presentations will be free and open to the public.
Faith community nurses of Catholic Health, St. Benedict Parish in Eggertsville, St. Leo the Great and St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Amherst will co-sponsor the sessions. Yvonne Askew, RN, MSN, FCN, Faith Community Nurse Program director for Catholic Health, noted that when serious accidents occur, many people who are admitted to emergency rooms do not have anyone who is able to speak for them.
"Health professionals would rather work within the wishes of the client, and if they cannot communicate, this is difficult. The same is true when an individual passes away," Askew explained. "Without clear instructions from a will on how to proceed, the state will confiscate the individuals' property, making their grieved loved ones go through the lengthy process of hiring a lawyer and going to court."
Askew said faith community nurses are "attempting to take the guesswork out of the stated documents" by providing a forum in which people can ask questions, receive assistance and talk about something that is unpleasant, but still needs to be talked about. If more people are willing and ready to talk about difficult topics such as these, they will be better prepared if disaster strikes, Couche concluded.
"Everything about the day-to-day of our lives can change in a heartbeat. The best time to prepare for life's unpredictability is now," said Couche. "Young and old should have the necessary documents completed that indicate who you appoint to be your voice in the event you are unable to speak for yourself."
For more information about any of these sessions, contact Maureen Couche, RN, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Amherst at 716-835-8905.