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Transcript: End of Life Chat With Jennie Chin Hansen, CEO of the American Geriatrics Society

Missed our live chat? Read the transcript

Comment from Bob: In my experience with my mother it was improtant to have BOTH a living will and a DPAH. During one ER visit at 2 a.m. she needed to be intubated but her living will said no. I has DPAH and the ER doc said whe could survive if he intubated; otherwise, she would die. He knew her well, so I trusted his advice. She was off the ventilator 10 hours later and lived another three years.

Jennie Chin Hansen: Hi, Bob. Your comments point out that it is important to have formal tools just as you've described.

But ever so important is the fact that your loved one's needs are understood and well known.

So the judgement of her doctor in this case clearly lead to a happy outcome.

Comment from Jessica: Lately, I have been really tired, cranky and can’t seem to stop crying. I have been taking care of both of my parents for over a year now. Maybe it’s catching up to me. What can I do to feel better?

Jennie Chin Hansen: It sounds like you might be experiencing caregiver burnout. You are not alone.

Caregiving can be a full-time job and it can take a lot out of you. It is important to get help before caregiving becomes overwhelming.

1. Talking about your experiences and feelings in person or online can make caregiving less stressful. Some people find it helpful to join a caregiver support group.

2. Learn about the person’s health conditions now and what the condition may look like over time, and how their conditions may change in the future.

3. Since part of the stress is managing many medications, please look to the American Geriatrics Society medications list (PDF)

Here's another resource for medications.

4. Take care of yourself! Eating well, exercising, and taking time to relax and enjoy yourself are key to avoiding burnout.

If you take care of yourself you’ll be able to take better care of others. Also know the warning signs of depression and get help when you need it.

If you visit the AARP Caregiving Resource Center, you will not only find resources to help you but you will also find a place to chat with other caregivers like yourself.

The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging also has some great suggestions. Make sure to check out the tip sheets listed under “Caregiver Resources.”

Comment from Jennifer: What are some important things family caregivers should be aware of at the end of life?

Jennie Chin Hansen: 1. Respecting the wishes of your loved one;

2. Make the remaining days, weeks or months for the person you care for meaningful;

3. Take care of yourself. Many caregivers don’t realize how much of a toll it can take on themselves to care for someone else.

AARP: I think that will be our last question for the day.

We'd to thank Jennie for her great answers and you, our audience for your great questions.

Jennie Chin Hansen: Thanks for having me. We appreciate your interesting in this subject. We didn't have a chance to cover everything but stay stuned to www.aarp.org/caregiving for more.

AARP: A replay of this chat will be available shortly.

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