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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / The Caregiver Checklist / Editorial List

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Gary Barg

The Caregiver Checklist

I stood in the hospital emergency room with my mother, the ER doctor and the social worker. My mother and I had just brought my 91-year-old grandfather in a few hours earlier. The next few words spoken by the social worker jerked me back seven years to the night my father passed away. The same hospital, the same little group—my mom and I with two healthcare professionals—and the very same question, “Does he have a living will?”

I know the implications of these words were not lost on my mother, either.  My dad was literally on his deathbed, having battled multiple myeloma cancer for the previous year and a half.  He made his wishes about his end-of-life decisions known, but we could never actually face seeing them become real on paper. Somehow, those papers were never signed. However, I had slipped a copy into my back pocket earlier in the day, finally realizing that perhaps we would need to face the inevitable hours before his passing.

My mother came to a similar realization.  She asked me if I knew where we could find a copy of the living will. I’ll never forget the expression on her face when I produced the papers on the spot. To this day, I still do not know if it was horror or surprise. Most likely, it was a combination of the two.  She signed as my father’s power of attorney and, perhaps realizing the last piece was in place for his departure, my father passed away within the hour. 

Thankfully, that night seven years later, my grandfather did not need the papers and we arranged to meet his attorney the next day.

I’d like to share the following list of information and documents you should have prepared to begin the process of ensuring that your loved one’s wishes are represented.


While you are at it, doesn’t it make sense to put together a Checklist for yourself, too?

Gary Barg

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