The book is divided into 11 Chapters for quick reference, with checklists and attachments in the addenda.
Chapter 1: Receiving the News
When you are confronted with the medical reality, how do you drill through the medicalspeak and understand exactly what the doctors are telling you? How do you get to the core of the message, and what do you say to a physician to get more information?
Chapter 2: Understanding your Choices
What choices are available to you? What are the realities of your situation? Once you understand these, you can start to set your own goals for care, and reframe your life goals. Suggested language can help you with understanding and expressing your goals.
Chapter 3: Discussing with Family
This is the discussion no family wants to have until it is necessary. How do you prepare yourself, who will be involved, where and when? How do you set it up, broach the subject, what do you say and how do you say it? How do you handle feedback during the discussion, and how do you respond to questions and issues that arise? Suggested language is essential at this point because no one wants to talk about this.
Chapter 4: Choosing Where to Live
Where you will live for the rest of your life may need to change as your illness progresses and your care level increases. What will be the problems and options for living? Do you stay at home and if so how do you plan out your home? Do you go to a facility and if so what type of facility? What levels of care can you expect, and what are available to you?
Chapter 5: Choosing Your Caregiver
Do you want/expect a family caregiver(s) or should you have a professional caregiver(s), or a combination of both? What are the needs of care to be accommodated and how will this can change over time? What are the problems you could face, what are the issues you need to accept, and how will you manage this while you can? What about backup care and respite care? This chapter also has checklists for caregiver and care plan management.
Chapter 6: Seeing Your Lawyer
What questions should you be discussing with your elder care lawyer? From Healthcare proxy through wills, Power of Attorney, guardianship and other legal complications. This is intended to help you discuss with your lawyer all your legal issues to make things clear and straightforward. Includes suggested language included to help in conversations with your healthcare proxy.
Chapter 7: Who Pays for What?
The goal of this chapter is to help you ask the right questions to make sure you take advantage of the various streams of funding: Medicare, Medicaid, PACE, special waivers, Money Follows the Patient (federal plan), private pay options, etc. This chapter gives overviews of what you can expect, or not, from each.
Chapter 8: Specifying Advance Directives
Planning for your care when you are no longer able to tell the doctors or those around you what you want for your end-of-life care. Includes Advance Directives, Living Wills and MOLST/POLST. What they all mean and where they may, or may not, be recognized. Different states have different requirements and some faith-based care facilities may not agree to render the type of care you wish. How to ensure your wishes are carried out. This chapter also touches on ethics and ethical boundaries in health.
Chapter 9: Managing Pain
This chapter describes the different types of pain, the ways pain is measured, and what can be done to alleviate pain. This is so you understand what your doctors are doing and how they are helping. It does not contain medical advice but tries to help you understand so you can discuss pain with your healthcare providers and ensure it is managed in the way that you want. This chapter include some basic information on opioids, other drugs, and non-physical pain.
Chapter 10: The Final Phase
How life can gradually slip away and what to expect. Of course everyone is different, but having this knowledge can take a huge degree of fear out of what happens. This chapter also describes some of what those around you can expect to see, and the signs that you are slipping away, so its helpful to others as well as to you.
Chapter 11: Reflecting on your Legacy
More than just writing a eulogy, this introduces the ‘ethical will’. This is a non-legal notion of being able to share with those who survive you what your life has meant. It can include what hopes you hold for those you love, what lessons you have learned, as well as any family information you want to share for posterity. It’s a reflection of your personal values and beliefs. Because this is a new process for many, the chapter steps through the process to help. The chapter also includes your funeral and wishes for your body after death.