'Enduring guardian' plea
IF there was one message Professor Colleen Cartwright wanted people to take away from the sen- iors expo at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club yesterday it was to appoint an enduring guardian to make critical decisions on your behalf.
She said those could be personal and lifestyle decisions or decisions about medical treatment for those who had lost the capability of making their own.
It shouldn't just be something considered by older people; anyone over the age of 18 should have an enduring guardian appointed.
Ms Cartwright said people often had a misconception that people who had been given power of attorney or the next of kin could make lifestyle or medical decisions. They couldn't. It was only those who had been made enduring guardians.
"It is not just for older people, but younger people might want to review theirs every few years as their circumstances change," she said.
"I made mine years ago and hope I never have to use it, but we can all have car accidents or similar where it would be reassuring to have someone able to make decisions on your behalf.
"Not enough people are aware of it. Some solicitors even give incorrect advice."
Prof Cartwright said fear of dying rated the lowest of the fears of people facing a terminal illness.
The biggest concerns were over loss of mental faculties, loss of control, loss of independence and being a burden on family.
She also spoke about advance health-care directives, where people could make legally binding decisions about their future health care. It was not euthanasia, but allowed a competent person to refuse treatment at a future time when they might not be competent.
More information is available at her website http://aslarc.scu.edu.au