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Dying well

May 06, 1999|By KATE COLEMAN

You are going to die.

You don't like to think about it - nobody does - but unless medical science comes up with something pretty amazing, it's going to happen.

[cont. from lifestyle]

There's plenty of advice - in school, in church, in books and on talk shows - about how to live well.

What should you do in order to die well?

We asked a few experts.

Hospice care is a compassionate method of caring for terminally ill people. Faye Altizer, a certified grief counselor, started her work with Hospice of Washington County as a volunteer 16 years ago. Now she works as the organization's bereavement program manager. "I decided that this was sort of a calling for me," she says.

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Hagerstown attorney Michael Day has advice for protecting your assets in planning for retirement and the end of your life. People are living longer. The window of retirement is opened wider, he says. People have options in protecting their assets as they plan for the end of their lives, according to Day. He believes that a simple will or living will is not enough. In advising his clients, Day customizes plans. He explodes what he calls "myths," including the belief that it's not possible to do financial planning for a person who may be going or already is in a nursing home, or that a person's 401(k) and IRA are secure if his or her spouse is in a nursing home.

Siri Young, Washington County Health Department prevention specialist, presents programs such as "End of Life Decisions," at all seven county Senior Centers/Nutrition sites. The subject of death is on the mind of "my seniors," she says. She finds that people who have received a diagnosis of cancer or other terminal illness are more willing to deal with the idea of dying.

Patricia Tengel has personal experience as trustee of her deceased sister's living trust. Family resource management specialist with Maryland Cooperative Extension at University of Maryland at College Park, Tengel had set up an estate-planning program for Frederick County Extension Service last month, but not enough people signed up to attend.

Here are 10 things you need to do in order to die well:

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