Wednesday, October 24, 2007
When Colleen Anagick was putting together a health care decision-making workshop, she enlisted her mother, Eva Merrifield, to talk about and prepare a living will and durable power of attorney. It was hard to talk about such complex issues with a loved one, she told an audience of elders at the opening day of the Alaska Federation of Natives Elders and Youth Conference Monday in Fairbanks. Anagick’s mother, who is healthy and active, wasn’t interested in conversation about terminal or end-of-life issues. “It was emotional,” said Anagick, a social worker at the Alaska Native Medical Center, but necessary for her mother to make her own health care wishes known in advance for her family’s sake. “There are six kids in my family, and it would be a miracle if we all agreed on one thing at one time,” Anagick said. Before Monday’s 90-minute workshop ended, the audience heard other personal stories that could have been less stressful if some health care decisions had been made beforehand. Elders learned how to go about letting their family, friends and health care providers know how they would like to be cared for in the event of a serious illness or injury via a living will. They also were given information on how to choose health care proxies to make decisions for them if they were unable to do so themselves via a durable power of attorney.