Pixel Tracker

Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 7:05 pm | Partly Cloudy 50º


Rona Barrett: Advance Care Directive Can Provide Peace, Comfort Toward the End

Woody Allen wrote, "Forever is a long time, especially toward the end."

"Toward the end" is what I write about today.

So many of my friends and co-workers in the entertainment business seem to wear a sheath of “live forever” invincibility. Perhaps it’s because so many of our careers are built on a high-grade, plutonium-like core of self-confidence — the sureness to gamble on oneself.

A friend of mine had this moxie. More than a friend, I called him my brother (and that’s how I will refer to him from now on). I had known him since I was a teenager. I became executor of his estate. He was in the entertainment industry and a multimillionaire.

But toward the end he lost everything — except his ability to carry out his last wishes.

He had been in and out of hospitals. In his final board and care, my brother fell out of bed and severely cracked his head.

Because he was in a coma state, the doctors had no other choice but to send him to a hospital for the severely injured who were dying.

One day he suddenly awakened and whispered, “Rona, let it happen. Just let it happen.”

I kissed him and said, “Everything is going to be OK.”

I immediately called his doctor and said, “He just told me he wants it over. No more treatment.”

This difficult decision was not made quickly, irrationally or based on the emotions of the moment.

In fact, the decision was made many years before, by my brother, based on his own philosophy and religious beliefs. He was of clear mind and took time to think through his final wishes, then detailed them in writing. In this case, my brother had specifically spelled out that he did not want to be sustained with any form of life support if it was clear that it would only prolong the inevitable.

The process of letting him go was gradual. Within four days, my brother for more than 50 years was gone.

I was able to respect his last wish to pass away with a degree of dignity for one simple reason: an advance medical directive.

He had a written document that told his doctors, family and friends how he wanted to be treated should he become physically or mentally unable to make informed decisions.

The California Hospital Association has a wonderful sample document available by clicking here.

In addition, Aging with Dignity’s “Five Wishes” is an easy-to-complete, step-by-step guide that walks you through the entire process of discussing, deciding on and documenting what goes into an advance care directive. More than 40 states, including California, recognize the results as a legal document.

Also, the Santa Barbara-based Alliance for Living and Dying Well has support resources you may find helpful, “especially toward the end.”

Completing a directive is as much for your loved ones as it is for yourself. By considering your options early, you avoid having your family making difficult decisions under duress.

It usually takes a bit of a scare before most people to do it. But please, don’t wait!

Until next time … keep thinking the good thoughts.

— In honor of her late father, entertainment journalist, author, senior activist and Santa Barbara County resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village, the area’s first affordable senior living and care facility, scheduled to begin construction in early 2015. Contact her at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >