Planning for the end of life is both practical and allows for peace-of-mind during one’s last days, said multimedia entrepreneur Judy MacDonald-Johnston in her brief presentation for TED.
Her TED Talk, “Prepare For A Good End Of Life” sought to identify five best practices in planning for death. “We all think a lot about how to live well. I’d like to increase our chances of dying well,” she said.
“Most people say, ‘I want to die at home’– 80 percent of Americans die in a hospital or in a nursing home,” MacDonald-Johnston said. “Saying we’d like to die at home is not a plan.”
A real plan involves answering straightforward questions about the end you want and having able, willing advocates ready to follow your wishes through– whether it be in the ER or hospital room. Choosing the right caregiver is also important for those planning for end of life, and she advises not settling for just anyone or any elder care community. “Assess your personality and financial situation,” she said.
Last words should be carefully crafted. “When you hear it’s okay to let go, you will,” she said. “What do you want to hear at the very end?”
MacDonald-Johnston launched Goodendoflife.com in 2013, featuring a set of downloadable worksheets and tips aiming to help those facing the end of life do so with confidence. Five documents mirror her TED presentation: “Make A Plan,” “Recruit Advocates,” “Be Hospital Ready,” “Choose A Place And Caregivers” and “Discuss Last Words.”
Providing resources and support pertaining to the end of life is a sharp departure from MacDonald-Johnston’s work as a publisher of reading tools for young children. She co-founded the company Blue Lake Children’s Publishing.
“I am not a geriatrician. I design reading programs for preschoolers. In the last few years, I helped two friends have the end of life they wanted. I learned a few things about how to have a good end of life. At the end, our bodily functions and independence decline,” she posted for Good [End of] Life. “I wanted to share what I learned from my friends’ successful approach to the end of life.”
Due to advances in medical technologies, health often declines over a increasingly long periods- making advance care planning more imperative. “Advance care planning is a dynamic process that evolves over time as a person’s health goes from well, to ill, to ultimately terminal,” LMM co-founder Mary F. Mulcahy, M.D., wrote for The Huffington Post. “Medical advances have led to few cures of illness, have prolonged the experience of living with chronic illness and have prolonged the process of dying.”
MacDonald-Johnston’s advice is resonating– her Ted Talk has been viewed more than 350,000 times since Feb. 2013.
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