2014’s You’re Not You stars Hilary Swank as a 35-year-old classical pianist who is stricken with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). This multiple-hanky-needed drama is naturally sad, although fairly realistic and extremely well-acted. ALS is a disease that travels in only one direction: downhill. There is no cure, not even much palliative care that can be offered. So, yes, in one respect, the movie is about watching Hilary Swank’s character die.
However, the lessons that can be learned from the film are very helpful to family, friends and caregivers of those with ALS, or other fatal diseases. Without spoiling the watching experience, the primary lesson for all who care about someone with ALS is LISTEN to them. LISTEN to their wants, needs, fears. So many people care for others with good intentions but according to their own knowledge and values. This can make the “patient” feel invisible, unimportant and a burden on others. A caregiver who truly listens is a rare gift for the terminally ill.
Which brings us to the estate planning lesson contained within the movie. In order for your chosen caregiver(s) to listen to you, you must make your voice known and heard. Hilary’s character made her intentions clearly known, made sure that legally viable Advance Healthcare Directives were written and signed, and, perhaps most importantly, chose someone she could trust implicitly to carry out her wishes. (Click to read past blogs about Advance Healthcare Directives.)
Enjoy the provocative drama that plays out in the backdrop of this advance planning.
For more information about how you can make your wishes known through Advance Healthcare Directives and other estate planning tools, we encourage you to attend one of our monthly educational workshops.