Glen was 65 years old when he moved to Guelph to be closer to his grandchildren. His wife had recently passed away and his two children, Lauren and Daniel, were thrilled to have their father closer to them.
One morning, while Glen was walking his dog, he got tangled in the leash, fell backwards and fractured his skull. A neighbor found him and he was rushed to the emergency department. Once at the hospital, Glen slipped into a coma.
With their father unable to make health care decisions for himself, Lauren and Daniel became the automatic substitute decision makers (SDMs) for Glen based on the Heath Care Consent Act hierarchy. Over the course of his treatment in hospital there were many health care decisions to be made. “We had never talked to my dad about the “what ifs” so when the doctor asked us who would make the decisions, my brother and I had no idea and we were terrified,” recalls Lauren.
“Both my brother and I were in our late 30’s with very young children. We worked together to make the necessary decisions, trying always to base those decisions on what we thought Dad would have said was important to him,” she adds. After several months in hospital, Glen came out of his coma and was able to make health care decisions for himself again.
It took many months, but with help from his family and outstanding health care professionals across the health system, Glen has made a full recovery.
After Glen began feeling well again, the family had a conversation about what he would want if he was ever unable to make health care decisions for himself again. “After my dad got better we sat down to talk about decision making and he asked us to be the joint attorneys named under the Power of Attorney for personal care,” she recalls. “Both my brother and I said, “no way.” It was an emotional rollercoaster and way too hard for us as his kids to make those difficult decisions,” she adds.
Glen was very understanding of how difficult his medical crisis had been on Lauren and Daniel and, after more discussion with the family, Glen spoke with his sister about becoming his SDM. She agreed and was named Power of Attorney for personal care. Glen made sure to discuss his wishes for end-of-life care with his sister in detail, but also with Lauren and Daniel so they understood his wishes as well.
Today, Glen is doing well and is in good health. Although he hopes his sister will never need to make medical decisions for him, he is comforted by the fact that if he ever needs a substitute decision maker again, that his sister knows what kind of care he would want.