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Maine Center for Elder Law Blog

Friday, September 25, 2015

Unbefriended: When you Outlive Your Family and Friends

The New York Times has been running an excellent series by columnist Paula Span called "The New Old Age." In a recent piece, Paula wrote about the "unbefriended" (and the term doesn't have anything to do with Facebook). We thought this was an informative article to share on the importance of Advance Health Care Directives. Read on!

Near the End, It's Best to Be 'Friended'

The unconscious man in his 90s was brought to an emergency room where Dr. Douglas White was a critical care physician. The staff couldn’t find any relatives to make medical decisions on his behalf.

“He had outlived all his family,” recalled Dr. White, who now directs an ethics program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “We were unable to locate any friends. We even sent the police to knock on his neighbors’ doors.”

Nobody could find an advance directive, either. In the end, the hospital’s ethics committee had to help guide the medical team to decisions about continuing life support.

Experts describe patients like this one as “unbefriended.” But you can also be unbefriended, even if you do have friends and family, if you are incapacitated and haven’t appointed someone you trust as a health care proxy.

Read the full article here.

The Maine Center for Elder Law is a practice of Perkins Thompson, P.A. The Center assists clients with Medicaid (MaineCare) Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, and Probate, Estate & Trust Administration matters in York County, Cumberland County and nearby Maine counties.

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