Council on Aging Answers 2016 - 71

COUNCIL ON AGING - ORANGE COUNTY

Making End of Life Decisions
n Martha Patterson, Attorney at Law

Council On Aging-Orange County | 714-479-0107 | www.coaoc.org	 Answers Guide 2016

71

FINANCE & LEGAL

He was America's most beloved deejay, the unmistakable voice who created 'American Top 40' and rose to
fame on the irresistible charm of his "long-distance dedications." Five years after signing off his final countdown,
Casey Kasem was in a nursing home suffering from Lewy
Body Dementia.
As Casey began to decline, his children from his first
marriage were suddenly cut off from seeing their father.
They grew concerned about his second wife refusing to
allow them to be with Casey when he needed them most.
Casey had signed a notarized Advanced Health Care
Directive designating his daughter, Julie, and her husband
(a cardiologist) to make health care decisions for him in
the event he was no longer able to make them himself.
Julie Kasem and her sister, Kerri, took legal action and
used this document to convince the court that Casey
wanted to see them and have them involved in his health
care. If Casey had not signed an Advanced Healthcare
Directive naming his children as agents he wanted to
make decisions for him, the law would have assumed the
only person he wanted to make decisions for him was his
wife.
Advance Health Care Directives are very powerful
documents. They enable a person to select the people
they want to make health care decisions. The health care
agent can be their children, their spouse, their best friend
or anyone they choose to make their healthcare decisions.
Further, by signing this document, the healthcare agent
has the right to have your private healthcare information
disclosed to them, which under HIPAA, is prohibited.
The Advanced Health Care directive provides a clear
statement of your preferences regarding end of life treatment. Examples:
n Do you want the doctors to do everything possible
to keep you alive?
n Do you want a feeding tube in the event you cannot
chew or swallow?
n Do you want CPR knowing it can possibly cause
broken ribs and may result in hospitalization?
n Do you want all comfort measures available?
These decisions are not easy to make and are very personal. Casey Kasem made his wishes known in the event
he became unable to do so. He did not want artificial

nutrition or hydration, nor did he want to be kept alive
should he become comatose. While Casey was in a nursing home, his wife decided to have him relocated without
his children initially knowing. By the time his daughter
found him and was able to get her Dad to a hospital during his illness, he was gravely ill.
There was disagreement among the family members.
Kerri wanted her Dad to have everything he needed including nutrition and hydration. According to the doctor, it would be "acutely harmful to continue the fluids,"
so a decision was made to remove them with the input
of Casey's other children and his brother. Unbeknownst
to the family however, his wife had scheduled a court appearance without notifying other family members. She
objected to the removal of nutrition and hydration yet,
the most important fact for the Judge to know was what
Casey had detailed in his Advanced Health Care Directive. The judge reviewed it and saw Casey had clearly
stated he would not want to be kept alive under specific
circumstances. With the Health Care Directive and
medical evidence stating that restoring nutrition and
hydration would be harmful, the Court allowed Casey
to receive comfort measures. Ultimately, Casey Kasem's
Advanced Healthcare Directive prevailed, adhering to his
end of life decisions.
If you don't express your wishes, the courts and others
will have to decide.
An Advance Health Care Directive lets your physician,
family and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of treatment you want or don't want at
the end of life. By considering your options early, you can
ensure the quality of life that is important to you. Avoid
having your family "guess" your wishes or cause them to
make critical medical care decisions for you under stress
or in emotional turmoil.
To obtain an Advanced Healthcare Directive visit:
n ElderlawMom.com
n California Medical Association www.cmanet.org
n Coalition for Compassionate Care
www.coalitionccc.org
Martha Patterson is an Elder Law attorney who helped
the Kasem family to see their father. www.marthapatterson.com. Kerri Kasem has started a foundation called
Kasem Cares. She is actively involved in the elder abuse
prevention community.


http://www.ElderlawMom.com http://www.cmanet.org http://www.coalitionccc.org http://www.marthapatterson.com http://www.marthapatterson.com http://www.coaoc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Council on Aging Answers 2016

Contents
Council on Aging Answers 2016 - Intro
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