Please prepare now for unexpected outcomes

I’m sad to learn that my friend Rena Kaplowski died yesterday, even though she went the way she wished, in her sleep. Her passing has been a bit of a wakeup call for me and perhaps should be for millions of us. Rena had just turned 67 when she suffered a devastating stroke. Weeks of unconsciousness and intensive care followed, and she had just been moved to a rehab center when she passed.

Rena had not signed an advance directive form like Five Wishes which allows each of us to guide important medical care decisions that might be made if we should become seriously ill, decisions like whether we would like to be given life-support treatments. You may think that your loved ones and doctors will know what you want when you are very ill, but in reality, everyone has different wishes and it’s important to make them clearly known. Expressing your wishes in an advance directive helps to empower your family and other loved ones, and your doctor to make the best decisions when the time comes, and avoid disagreements about what to do next. Completing a form like “Five Wishes” can help you and your loved ones gain peace of mind around difficult end-of-life decisions.

The best time to fill out an advance directive form is now, before you face a health crisis. Because life is unpredictable, it’s best to be prepared. Anyone over the age of 18 can use the “Five Wishes” form. It is also a good idea to review and possibly update your Five Wishes advance directive when you experience significant life events like marriage, divorce, having children, or being diagnosed with a major illness. “Five Wishes” was written with the help of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law & Aging and is used widely in all 50 states. Federal law requires medical care providers to honor patient wishes as expressed.

Remember, you will always make your own health care decisions if you are able to talk with your doctor and understand what is being said. This directive only takes effect when you are too ill to understand or communicate. If you are unable to make your own decisions or speak for yourself, an advance directive and the person you chose to be your healthcare agent, can help direct your care with your doctor.

3 thoughts on “Please prepare now for unexpected outcomes

  1. I knew the beautiful Rena when I lived near Walsenburg between 2005 and 2013. I am saddened to hear this. I have a kind of sloppy advanced directive where I wrote down stuff that needs revision. Nobody likes to do this stuff but it has to be done. I will take a look at “5 wishes”. Thanks, Laura for posting this. Sending hugs…


  2. Good Sydney! I think it’s best to use the legal forms in matters like this… Rena was a friendly bright spot in my uneven welcome to this new part of Colorado. She always liked Mike & I and encouraged our interests in yoga and the arts 🙂


    • When I was new to the area, she was welcoming of me and had the knack of finding something she liked about me. She pointed out I had a child like wonder at the age of 52 at the time. She really noticed others. Acknowledged others. That seems to be a rare phenomena. She taught me to be or hope to be way less judgmental. I’m so glad she brightened your life. She sure did mine.


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