When it comes to your healthcare, you need to ensure that your advance healthcare directive is up to date. This is sometimes referred to as a living will. This document allows you to name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf or communicate your wishes in the event you are unable to. An advance healthcare directive clearly spells out your wishes for the end of your life, for example, whether or not you want to be placed on life support if you are in a persistent vegetative state or have a terminal illness.
In addition to meeting with your estate planning attorney, you should have a meaningful discussion with the person you designate to make your healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to.
Do you have particular beliefs about healthcare or end-of-life care?
Consider any spiritual, religious, or personal beliefs you have about your end-of-life care. For example, what are your beliefs about blood transfusions, organ donation, or artificial life support? Do you want clergy or other spiritual or religious leaders at your bedside before you pass away? Consider documenting these beliefs and wishes, perhaps even requiring that your healthcare decision-maker honor them when you cannot speak on your own behalf.
What type of medical interventions do you want?
When faced with end-of-life care in which you are not able to communicate your wishes, it is important that your chosen healthcare decision-maker understands the types of treatments you do or do not want administered. Depending on the situation, there could be a variety of treatments or interventions available.
Do you have different wishes based upon your medical condition or prognosis?
Depending on your state, your advance directive might contain provisions on the care you will receive in either a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state. While advance directives do not memorialize “do not resuscitate” orders (those are done at a hospital and usually with the advice of a physician), you may be able to direct your medical decision-maker (and those treating you) to remove medical interventions and cease medical treatment if you are in a terminal condition, as certified by a physician. Consider also if you have certain wishes regarding the discontinuing of interventions or treatment if you are deemed by physicians to be in an irreversible and persistent vegative state.
Will your chosen healthcare decision-maker honor your wishes?
This is one of the most important questions you must ask both yourself and your chosen healthcare decision-maker, and you should have confidence in the answer you receive. While you may be steadfast in your beliefs and decisions about your end-of-life care, if you are unable to communicate this information, someone else will have to make these decisions on your behalf
If you suspect that the person you have chosen will not honor your wishes, you need to update your advance healthcare directive immediately. You cannot predict when you will be in the hospital facing the end of your life, so you need to make sure that your documents are up to date and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
We are here to help you
With healthcare at the top of everyone’s mind right now, we want to reassure you that we are here to help. Choosing the right healthcare decision-maker and clearly communicating your wishes for your end-of-life care are two matters that should not be taken lightly. We can assist you in determining whom to name to this very important role and making sure that your wishes are clearly communicated in the appropriate documents. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation.