If you are anything like me, you like to make your own decisions about most everything. Including your medical care. But what if you are in a coma or at the end of your life. You lie in a hospital bed unresponsive, hooked up to tubes. Do you want your family or loved ones to have to come to a consensus on your medical care or would you prefer to have your wishes down on paper so they would know how to respond?
Physicians Assistant, Amy Blazek explains, “that an advance directive is a legal document that talks about what someone’s whishes might be as they near the end of their life and what type of care they would like to receive.” The advance directive or living will is the best way for your family and medical team to know what you want, so that they can honor your wishes. Just as important as what you want is who to choose to be your voice. Blazek tells us, “the person you choose to be your medical power of attorney is the person who is going to be your voice, so if you can’t make decisions for yourself, this person is going to be your voice to communicate with the team what your wishes are as the patient.”
No you know you need one, but how do you fill it out? Blazek explains, “the first component is if you have a terminal condition if you want A. Life saving measures or B. No live saving measures and just focus on comfort. The second part of that is for if you have an irreversible condition would you want live saving measures or not. There’s also a section that is important so you can write things in.” In filling out that is more crucial than having the Advance Directive filled out. “It gets sticky whenever people do the advance directives and don’t have the conversations with their families. So the piece of paper is important but the most important thing is to have a conversation with your family.”
You don’t have to wait until you’re a certain age to have one…we can all go at any time. “It doesn’t matter your age, I think all adults should have one. It’s important for every adult to have especially if you have COPD, Heart Disease or a cancer diagnosis. So you talk with your family get your advance directive filled out, but who all needs copies of the document? “A copy should go to your Primary Care Physician, one should go the the hospital of your choice, one you should keep for your records and one for family members to have.”
For more information on the topic you can log on to www.polst.org or theconversationproject.org and get your forms filled out for you and your families protection.