Multiple Myeloma End Of Life Issues To Consider

Legal experts encourage people with a terminal illness to make their legal and financial arrangements in advance to ensure that their wishes regarding end-of-life care and estate management are carried out. Even if your multiple myeloma cancer is in remission, you should be prepared for a recurrence. Planning for end-of-life issues can help reduce your anxiety about unknowns in your future.

Advance Directives for End-of-Life Care

Advance directives for health care are legal documents that give specific instructions about what you want and don’t want as part of your myeloma treatment and end-of-life care. You must prepare these documents in advance so that your wishes are carried out even if you’re unable to communicate them verbally in the future. Some of the most common advance health care directives are listed below.

  • Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR): Prevents medical staff from performing CPR if you should stop breathing.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care: Allows you to authorize a proxy (another individual) to make decisions about end-of-life issues on your behalf.
  • Living will: Outlines your desires regarding end-of-life care, such as the type of medical treatment you’d like to receive, whether or not you’d like to receive life support measures and under what conditions.

Advance Directives for Other End-of-Life Issues

Legal experts suggest that you establish advance directives for your financial affairs to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes once you’re gone. Some important financial advance directives include a will, a durable power for finances and a living trust.

A will gives specific instructions as to how you wish your assets to be distributed. A durable power of attorney for finances authorizes a particular individual to make financial decisions on your behalf. This person may or may not be the same person that you authorize to hold a durable power of attorney for health care. A living trust authorizes a trustee to distribute your property assets.

Legal Advice for End-of-Life Issues

Consider hiring a lawyer to help you with your plans for the future. An elder law attorney (ELA) specializes in advance directives and other end-of-life issues. An ELA can:

  • Explain complicated legal issues
  • Offer legal advice about which advance directives you should consider
  • Prepare legal documents.

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, you may qualify for assistance through a cancer foundation, government social assistance or a nonprofit organization.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2009). Advance directives. Retrieved October 17, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002016-pdf.pdf

Cancer Research UK. (n.d.). Difficult questions and important decisions. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/coping-with-cancer/dying/decisions/

International Myeloma Foundation. (2002). Now you are a caregiver. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://myeloma.org/IndexPage.action?tabId=1&menuId=156&indexPageId =39&parentLinkId=507&categoryId=0&gParentType=menuitem&gParentId =156&parentIndexPageId=5&parentCategoryId=29

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Advance directives. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/support/advance-directives