Casey Kasem & The Importance of an Advance Directive

In a ruling Monday, Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered that renowned radio personality Casey Kasem must be fed, hydrated, and medicated at the discretion of his doctors. This order is the latest in a string of court battles between Kasem’s wife and children about his medical care. Casey Kasem suffers from a form of dementia similar to Parkinson’s and is no longer able to communicate with his family. Last month his wife, Jean, moved him from his care facility in Santa Monica to a friend’s home in the state of Washington without disclosing his whereabouts to his children, and after the incident Kasem’s daughter, Kerri, was named as his temporary conservator. This latest order comes from Kerri’s request that doctors begin end-of-life procedures for her father. Kasem’s wife vehemently opposed the request and argued that she feels like he would want to live as long as possible.

All of these arguments could have been avoided if Casey Kasem had filled out an advance directive that gave clear directions for his final wishes about his medical care.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is two legal documents, a living will and medical power of attorney, which together detail all decisions regarding medical care and final wishes. The directive allows you to communicate your wishes even if you are physically unable to communicate later on.

· Living will
A living will allows you to document your wishes for specific treatments and options for end-of-life care. You can specifically state what you do and do not want when faced with a serious or life altering illness. A living will can be specific for types of treatments or be disease specific depending on your preferences.

· Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney appoints a special person to make medical decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them for yourself. Otherwise known as a surrogate decision maker, the person appointed by medical power of attorney should follow the directives set out by you in your living will for your medical care.

The Future of Casey Kasem’s Care

Another hearing is set at the end of this week for the judge to hear a report from a court-appointed attorney about what he learned this week after speaking with Kasem’s doctors. His daughter’s attorney stated that end-of-life measures should be taken because feeding, hydrating, and medicating Kasem had been deemed too painful by his doctors. In addition, Kasem is apparently unable to eat on his own, and his body is rejecting food. His wife is accusing his daughter of expediting his death in order to hasten a $2 million distribution of his inheritance. Without an advance directive, these court battles over Kasem’s medical care are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

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