Tuesday is National Healthcare Decisions Day.
It’s an important day to sit down and think about what you want to happen if you get to a point where you can’t make medical decisions for yourself.
“We don’t like to talk about it and we put it off and there actually is a deadline but you don’t know when it is and when it happens it is too late,” explained Patty Freier, a quality improvement specialist at Covenant Health.
That’s why Freier says it’s important that all of us have an Advance Directive or Medical Power of Attorney.
“You have people who love you and when the time comes they’ll be grieving over the loss of you,” Freier said. “Make these decisions ahead of time because the plan is there and all they have to do is execute the plan.”
The plan is all inside an Advance Directive and it can get very specific on a person’s wishes.
“Do you want to be resuscitated or not, do you want a breathing tube, do you want to be on a ventilator,” explained Freier. “It could mean blood transfusions or surgical procedures. There’s a lot of decisions for the patient.”
Freier says it can be overwhelming, but it needs to be done sooner rather than later.
“We just don’t know what tomorrow will hold and once you have this it will give you a sense of relief and comfort,” Freier said.
Covenant Health Chaplain Bary Moynihan has seen families go through a lot and says not having an Advance Directive can bring added stress onto families during an already difficult time.
“You don’t want the family to be torn up because they’re going to live on so if half say we do this, but the other half say no, that doesn’t end when mom dies,” Moynihan explained.
Moynihan says knowing a loved ones wishes helps alleviate that stress, so families can focus on the important things at the end of someone’s life.
“The family can be unified and enjoy as much as possible that time with their loved one,” Moynihan said. “They can find peace and security among themselves instead of division.”
Freier says you should put an Advance Directive together when you turn 18-years-old and update it every 10 years or so.
It’s free to put one together.
Covenant even has videos and workshops to help people work through the paperwork.
You can get more information here.