As loved ones age, the questions you need to ask

Socastee, SC - Grand Strand Healthcare Inc. in Socastee is a skilled nursing facility. Administrator Harry Branton said it's different than the independent living facility in California, where 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless died after being refused CPR by a nurse who worked there. Branton said nurses at Grand Strand Healthcare Inc. can render aid, ranging from medications to CPR.

Branton says it's important for families to talk with administrators at any care facility to see what that facility will offer and is willing to do in case of a medical emergency.

It's also important to have a discussion about a person's wishes when it comes to end of life.

Wanda Bass knows how important that is. For nearly a year, she's been visiting her mother-in-law, Barbara Hughes, seven days a week at Grand Strand Healthcare Inc. Bass said 15 years ago, Barbara made a tough decision and created a living will.

"When you love someone so much, you're torn. You don't ever want to give them up. You want to do everything humanly possible to keep them with you," said Bass.

Barbara decided she wants to be resuscitated if she stops breathing, but she doesn't want to be put on life support, and Breton said those life and death decisions are critical for everyone: facility, family and person.

But there are times in an emergency when the victim does not have a living will.

"Then we would treat the patient as what we call a full code, which means that we would do everything that we could to take care of the patient," said Branton.

If there is a DNR or "Do Not Resuscitate" order, Branton said his facility has to comply. But in an emergency, Branton said residents can change their minds.

His bottom line is to have a plan, ask questions and get answers.