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posted: 6/30/2014 5:01 AM

Avoid any pain over end-of-life decisions

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I write to you today to express feelings of sadness in regards to the passing of Casey Kasem. I'm sad not only because the radio industry lost a great personality, but also because of the unnecessary turmoil his family suffered through preceding his death.

Recently, the Kasem family was the subject of a very public and very bitter legal battle. Kasem's current wife fought against her stepchildren for control over her husband's medical decisions, despite the existence of an advance directive appointing control to Kasem's eldest daughter.

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This instance highlights an all-too-prevalent yet easily avoidable conflict that many families suffer through while trying to make end-of-life decisions for their loved ones. Casey Kasem took the first step to eliminate this problem -- he had an advance directive in place. Where he went astray, though, was not communicating his wishes clearly to all members of his family.

Having a document that clearly spells out your end-of-life wishes is an important step in preventing conflicts from happening. But after that, aging adults need to discuss their wishes with family members on an ongoing basis to ensure that everyone understands and respects their choices.

This particular conversation isn't easy and can be uncomfortable, but I think if you ask most families in similar situations to that of the Kasem's they would say it's a conversation worth having.

Bill Lowe

President and CEO

Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services

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