Thursday, 16 July 2015

Setting Out My Last Wishes

I had a meeting with my solicitors a couple of weeks ago to review my Will. It was made a while ago, and since then, amongst other things, we in the UK can not only appoint people with power of attorney over our financial affairs in case we go gaga, we can also appoint someone with power of attorney over our care arrangements if we become incapable of looking after ourselves. This is because Care Act 2014 (effective May 2015) basically puts a social worker in charge of my life if I get dementia or even seem like I’m not taking care of myself. The Act and guidance is full of twaddle about “personal dignity” and the £72,000 limit on what the old person will have to spend, but what it doesn’t say so loudly is that £72,000 is to cover a very narrow range of costs. It's the council which decides what it's going to pay for, not the law or your attorneys.

Choosing someone to act on behalf of my future gaga self is tricky, because they have to know how to deal with bureaucrats and procedures, how not to be fooled by the set speeches about how Social Services have my best interests at heart, and the veiled threats about how hard it is to be responsible for a gaga person.

My wishes as regards my old age are really simple. I want to be dead before I get there. If I’m still alive and decaying, the doctors and social workers are not allowed to perform any “life-saving” (read: “death-delaying”) procedures that will leave me dependent on regular care, assistance or continued medication. I walk out of the operation autonomous or not at all. If we have the option by then - say in about ten years - I will go for AS anyway. I’m done now. I’ve had my life, and all this continuing effort of work and gym and reading and so on is just plain bravado. I’m going to be fairly badly-off when I stop earning, and that ain’t gonna be no fun. I do not want to be surrounded by old people, even if they are five years younger than me.

Asking someone to stand in front of people who manipulate emotional friends and family for a living, and say “He wants out. It says so in his testament. Have the decency to observe his wishes and inject the morphine” - well, you picture yourself saying that about a friend or sibling, let alone an uncle or a nephew. It’s what lawyers do, because they are paid to manipulate bureaucrats into doing what their client wants.

If I become incapable of looking after myself, I don’t want someone doing it for me. I won’t have the money to pay for it, and I wouldn’t want to take up another person’s time and life like that. It’s selfish to expect others to carry you when you can’t support yourself, and it’s sentimental to carry on supporting someone in that condition. Morphine. Out. Cold. Thank you.

I’ve had these views for a long time and I haven’t changed. But setting it out so my solicitor can put it down on paper for me to sign… just a little different.

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