It was a tragic end for one of America’s best-known voices, as radio star Casey Kasem’s family members fought over his continued care. Kesem’s end-of-life quandary can serve as a reminder for all New York residents to take their long term care planning seriously. Kasem took the right steps to ensure that his health care wishes would be enacted, thanks to two critical legal documents.
Experts say that Kasem took two additional steps that are not common among today’s Americans. First, he authorized a proxy decision-maker for his health care situation. That is, he designated his daughter as a surrogate health care decision-maker. She was charged with making the hard choices about her father’s health, abiding by the information he had included in his long-term care plan.
Further, Kasem laid out specific information about his treatment preferences. His advance directive clearly stated that he did not want any life-sustaining procedures. Those included nutrition and hydration. This, of course, caused significant strife within the family, as Kasem’s wife became furious that she was not legally allowed to order the feeding of her husband.
In many cases, the medical options that are offered through standard advance directives require additional considerations when it comes to real-life choices. There are always long term care planning situations that cannot be anticipated by any document. In Kasem’s case, his directive was specific enough to refuse nutrition and hydration care. Many people only use the term “heroic measures” or a similar phrase, which may be left up to interpretation.
Kasem ultimately received the end-of-life care that he wanted because he took the time to draft an appropriate advance directive. Experts say that it is important for everyone who is crafting an advance directive to discuss their wishes with their family members. Kasem’s family may have been able to avoid some of the dramatic episodes if everyone had simply been informed about his plans.
Source: KFGO, “Casey Kasem’s end-of-life drama: a lesson for the rest of us” Randi Belisomo, Jun. 16, 2014