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‘Five Wishes’ and end-of-life decisions

My son, Sam, drove away for his second year of college at CSU today.

He is a great kid on his way to becoming an even better man. When he was little, I had many expectations of him. Be excellent. Think. Do the next right thing. Never panic. Question authority. Pack in, pack out. Now I have just one request: Please wake up in the morning, I beseech him. The world is a better place with you in it.

One day, nature will follow its course, and I will not wake up. As an only child, Sam will most likely be the person to clean up after my life, distributing my things, paying my last bills, comforting my friends and having a huge memorial pancake breakfast celebrating my life. He knows to do this because I have left him written instructions ranging from how to cash in my life insurance policy to playing “Take the A Train” before the syrup is poured. I will also leave him instructions on what to do if I linger in a half state, kept alive only by technology, so he doesn’t spend time wondering if he did the right thing.

On Wednesday, Jill Caritas, a medical social worker from Home Health and Hospice of Mercy, presented the document, “Five Wishes.” It is a free booklet that guides you through questions that, when they are answered, gives you a way to control how you are treated when you are seriously ill. Once signed properly, it is a legally binding document in 42 states.

“Five Wishes” functions as a living will and a durable medical power of attorney, as well as a guide to family members. The five sections are: 1. The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t; 2. The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want; 3. How Comfortable I Want to Be; 4. How I Want People to Treat Me; 5. What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.

Powers of Attorney and Living Wills are legal documents that are priceless tools. Two years ago when I was the office manager for a law office, a man named Jack came in for help because his wife was terminally ill and mentally incapacitated. I sat in the smooth leather chair next to him as he sobbed into his massive, twisted rancher’s hands. Inconsolable, he told me of his frustration that he couldn’t do better by the woman who shared his bed, his dreams and their love. He confessed his limited ability to pay and the impossibility of his situation. He said they always meant to draw up their wills and powers of attorney, but just never got around to it. In addition to bearing witness to his wife’s slow death, Jack was entangled in protracted legal actions which took him away from her bedside.

At my memorial pancake breakfast I hope Sam tells stories about my guerilla gardening escapades, how I took him to school in my pajamas and winter boots and how we had fun no matter what. He will not be telling stories of attorney’s offices and fees, of how the judge was sympathetic, but couldn’t do anything while I wasted away, about how he had to miss so much work that his job is in jeopardy. To this end, I am heeding my own admonition to pack in, pack out. I am cleaning out my stuff, leaving a will, a copy of my “Five Wishes,” my love and an awesome pancake recipe.

Thank you

Thank you, Jim Estelle, for the beautiful new shelves you painstakingly made. Our burgeoning library now has room for more books.

Thank you, Jonathon Labuhn, for helping us in the kitchen. You are very brave and we appreciate you.

Last picnic

Our last Picnic in the Park for the 2010 Summer Season will be on Friday, Aug. 27. Johnny K and Natalie will be our delightful entertainment, crooning at 11:15 a.m. before lunch. They are professional singers and actors who have enthralled audiences all over the United States and Canada with their charming act. Reservations are required. Call Rob at 263-2167.

Pancake Breakfast

The last pancake breakfast fund-raiser for the season will be Thursday morning September 2nd from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. We will serve pancakes, bacon, veggie omelet, fresh fruit and coffee or tea for $5. It will be here at the Senior Center at 451 Hot Springs Boulevard on the other end of the Community Center.

Medicare counselors

Do you enjoy helping others? The SHIP program (Senior Health Insurance Program) and SMP (Medicare Fraud Program), available through the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center, is looking for additional talented volunteers to join the Medicare Navigators Team. These programs educate, counsel and assist Colorado’s Medicare beneficiaries. We need people who have a desire to help others in the community, who have computer skills and are Internet-savvy.

The Colorado Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program is part of a national network of programs that offer free, confidential counseling and assistance for people with Medicare. Congress established SHIP in 1990 to help beneficiaries navigate an increasingly complex health care system. It’s also home to the SMP Medicare Fraud Program.

Each year, the Colorado SHIP/SMP provides invaluable services to people with Medicare, including: Counseling beneficiaries through the annual prescription drug plan enrollment period, connecting with beneficiaries who have limited incomes to help them save money on health care costs, and educating the community about health insurance issues.

Please call Musetta Wollenweber at 264-2167 if you are interested in assisting us in providing this necessary service.

Services

Are you homebound or know someone who is? Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious senior center meals. Our hot meal home-delivery program remains available to those closer to town four days per week, and frozen meals on Thursdays. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give me or Musetta a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Weekly activities

Beginning in August, Dance for Health and Tai Chi is offered through the community center. For times and information, call the center at 264-4152.

Friday, Aug. 27 —? Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Johnny K and Natalie Performance in the Park 11:15 a.m.; Picnic in the Park, birthday celebration. Reservations required. Call Rob at 264-2167.

Monday, Aug. 30 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 31 — Yoga 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 1 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Writing for Generations 1 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 2 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, Sept. 3 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.

This week’s menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m., with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 27 — Picnic in the Park. (Sign-ups required. Call Rob at 264-2167.) Brats on a bun, pickled beets, sauerkraut, baked beans, grapes, birthday cake.

Monday, Aug. 30 — Sweet and sour chicken, brown rice, Chinese veggies, cinnamon applesauce, breadstick.

Tuesday, Aug. 31 — Corned beef sandwich on hoagie with Swiss, green beans with tomato, creamy coleslaw, sliced peaches.

Wednesday, Sept. 1 — Crunchy fish, garlic mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, whole wheat roll, pineapple mandarin orange compote.

Thursday, Sept. 2 — No lunch, administrative day.

Friday, Sept. 3 — Beef tacos, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, refried beans, Mexicali corn, pears.