May Caregiver Newsletter

Honoring End-of-Life Wishes

by Anne Denny
Will you be able to honor your loved one’s wishes? Will they honor yours?
Do you find yourself wondering what healthcare decisions you might face for aging parents, or perhaps your partner? As a family, will you agree or will you argue about the best treatment for Mom or Dad? Will your adult children be prepared to follow your wishes?
Most people consider these decisions for the first time while huddled around a loved one’s hospital bed. In the crisis, families most often say “yes” to a proposed treatment before truly considering what their loved one would want, or the possible outcome. In his 2011 TED talk, Dr. Peter Saul highlights the confusion between “death-delaying” versus “life-sustaining” treatment. While heroic treatments may delay death, when a person lingers for days or weeks in an ICU on a ventilator, it certainly challenges the notion of “life-sustaining.”
As care receivers and future recipients of care, we need to talk about our end-of-life preferences. April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day. Many resources are available to help you get started. It is time to have “the talk.”
Writing and sharing your own healthcare directive is the best way to open the door for conversation. A healthcare directive is the legal document that communicates your healthcare choices, if you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions. Writing and sharing your directive will give you credibility and compassion when you approach aging loved ones to ask how you can honor their wishes.
Approximately half of us will need a healthcare decision made on our behalf at some point in our lives. Dementia, heavy medication, or severe injury can render you, or a loved one, unable to make or communicate healthcare decisions. A healthcare directive allows you to choose and legally empower one or two people who can advocate for your preferences.
Providing meaningful instruction that actually guides your decision-makers, requires more than checking a box. While a healthcare directive is crucial to ensure your wishes are honored, it is equally valuable as the means of supporting your decision-makers. Thoughtfully written guidelines are a gift to those tasked with making medical decisions on your behalf. Including statements about religious, cultural or family values in your healthcare directive provides meaningful context for the treatment decisions that may be required on your behalf. My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive is a helpful resource that offers concrete insights and examples.
Break the silence about this important topic. Have a family meeting. If needed, ask for help from a trained facilitator or coach. With love and compassion, share your preferences, and ask each other how you can honor end-of-life treatment choices. Everyone will have peace of mind, knowing you are prepared for the journey, whenever it may come.
Anne Denny is the founder of Plan Well Finish Well, LLC. As a speaker, author and coach, Anne educates and inspires people to prepare for end-of-life healthcare decisions.

Caregiving Books

A special thanks to Barbara Roy, author of Under the Bridge Backwards, who made a guest appearance at Wilder’s Book Club in April. In her book, Barbara shares her personal story of caring for her husband through his journey with Alzheimers. Barbara spoke candidly about her journey and what inspired her to write this book.
We would also like to say thank you to Common Good Books for the warm welcome into their cozy bookstore to collaborate during a recent book signing event. Susan Allen Toth, author of No Saints Around Here: A Caregiver's Days shared her personal story of caring for her husband with Parkinson's to a packed house. Susan shared humor and candid truths to describe her experience as a caregiver.
If you would like to read the caregiving journeys of Barbara or Susan, you can order their books online or borrow them from our lending library located at Wilder’s Community Center for Aging, 650 Marshall Avenue in St. Paul. We have these books and many other resources available to you free of charge; just sign them out and return them when you finished. For more information contact Caregiver Services at 651-280-CARE.

Share Your Story and Make a Difference!

AARP is searching for caregivers to share their stories for the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which focuses on  protecting family caregivers from workplace discrimination, where caregivers are currently receiving lower income, less retirement security, and job loss. As workers struggle to balance caregiving for their aging relatives and work demands it can cost them, and their families, hard earned economic security.
On 04/23/2014, the Senate passed the bill, however, caregiving was not included. Contact AARP at 1-866-554-5381 if you would like to get involved to support this legislative bill.

Is Your Community Dementia-Capable?

The St. Paul Neighborhood’s ACT on Alzheimer’s Collaborative is working to make our community dementia-capable by hosting a Dementia Friends Champion’s training. This training will educate community members on ways to spread knowledge of Alzheimer’s Disease and to learn to be sensitive to those with dementia in our St. Paul community. Wilder will be hosting a training on:
- Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. at Wilder’s Community Center for Aging: 650 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul
If you are interested in attending, RSVP at 651-280-CARE (2273) or

P.S. I Understand

You've been a caregiver: you understand.
Now you can provide uniquely empathetic support for a current caregiver while joining a community of former caregivers.
Volunteers, who are former caregivers, are carefully matched with a current caregiver, whom they will call once or twice a month to check in and listen. Volunteers can call from wherever they are! 
For more information call 651-280-CARE (2273) or email

Upcoming Wellness Opportunities

Coming Soon! Wilder will be launching a new Tai Chi – Moving for Better Balance – class this summer. This one-hour Tai Chi class, for both caregivers and their care partners, will meet twice a week at Wilder’s Community Center for Aging. For more information contact Wilder at 651-280-CARE (2273).
Are you caregiving for someone with memory loss? Memory Loss Discussion Group meets the 2nd Thursday of the month from 10:00–11:30 a.m. No cost.
Are you caregiving for a parent? Adult Children Caregiver Support Group meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6:00–7:30 p.m.  No cost.
Want to enhance your abilities as a caregiver? Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a 6-week evidence-based workshop that builds your caregiving skills around communication techniques, increasing self-care and confidence, and managing emotions. Cost is $40 which covers participant handbook and class fee. The next series will be starting soon so let us know if you are interested in taking part! Check out our online calendar for upcoming class dates and to sign up!
For locations and registration, please give us a call at 651-280-CARE or email For specific dates, times, and additional information visit our caregiving calendar

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