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Workshops planned for end-of-life matters

by Merrie Leininger

In an effort to raise awareness about living wills, a free public workshop on completing the legal documents is being held today at two places in the Carson Valley.

The program is being held in conjunction with “It’s OK to Talk About Death Day,” proclaimed by Gov. Kenny Guinn to encourage residents to be fully aware of end-of-life issues and the needs of dying people and their families.

The program on advance-care planning for Nevadans 18 and older will be held at 37 locations from Reno to Boulder City, Ely to Zephyr Cove.

A team of volunteer professionals, from lawyers to health-care providers, will help attendees complete living wills – legal documents empowering loved ones to forgo or terminate life-support for individuals unable to communicate themselves – at no charge and answer questions about death and dying.

During a press conference in Carson City on Wednesday, several public officials, including Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, and Tom Baker, rural area director for Sen. Richard Bryan, will be signing their living wills.

State Treasurer Brian Krolicki will be at the presentation, but said there is no need for him to sign a living will.

“I think it is very appropriate to think about these things. My wife and I just did living wills and regular wills because we have a child and another on a way. It was time to get our personal affairs in order. People should do estate planning; they have an obligation to their family,” Krolicki said.

He said when he was in banking he witnessed the “horrific” process of settling the affairs of a person who did not have an estate will.

“It’s more appropriate for people to make decisions themselves in case of situations in which they can’t express their wishes, instead of courts and strangers,” Krolicki said.

– Valley programs. In Carson Valley, the seminars will be held at the Washoe Tribe Senior Center, 801 Peoples Way, Dresslerville, and at the Douglas County Public Library, 1625 Library Lane, Minden. Both will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Volunteers will provide packets that will include a durable power of attorney document for health care and how to fill it out. The document allows people to choose someone other than themselves to make health-care decisions and allows greater detail about their wishes for end-of-life care than is possible in a living will. The packet also will have information about palliative care – a full range of end-of-life care, including medical, emotional, social and spiritual needs – and a glossary of health-care terminology.

The Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy is sponsoring the program and is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information, call the center at (775) 327-2309.