A Medical crisis can strike without warning, leaving an individual too ill to talk or even make his or her own healthcare decisions. Therefore, it is important to make healthcare plans for the future even if you are not sick at the moment. By doing this, you will have taken an important step towards safeguarding your future and ensuring that you get the appropriate medical care you would want in case of a crisis. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, about 30% of Americans in their senior years of life face critical questions about medical treatment but are not capable of making those decisions. Because they did not make prior preparations while they were able, they are forced to depend on their family members to get medical treatment. With Advanced Care Planning, situations like these can be avoided.
Advanced care planning involves making decisions about the type of care you would like to receive if you are unable to make the decisions and communicate effectively because of a medical condition or old age. Advance care planning involves fully understanding the types of decisions that may need to be made, considering the possible decisions ahead of time, and then making your preferences clear to your loved ones by putting them into an advance directive. This advance directive will only go into effect if medical conditions or old age leaves you incapacitated and unable to communicate effectively for yourself.
Advance care planning involves collecting information on the relevant types of life-sustaining treatments available, settling on the type of treatment you would or would not want should you be diagnosed with an injury or illness, discussing your preferences with your loved ones and then completing advance directives to render your preferences legally viable. To help you understand the entire process and make more informed decisions, here are 3 tips on advance care planning:
The first step towards proper advance care planning is understanding the type of decisions that may come up in near death situations. Such decisions include the use of artificial nutrition, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, use of ventilators and comfort care. These are some of the most common decisions doctors require patients make when they believe a cure for the illness or injury is unlikely. Think about the kind of treatment you would or would not want when in a medical emergency.
Discuss with your family members and make your medical wishes known. Proceed to select your healthcare proxy (person who will express your wishes and make health care decisions on your behalf) and an alternate proxy just in case. Make sure you inform these individuals of their responsibilities in this case.
Once you have a proxy and have made informed decisions on your care, fill out the legal forms detailing your wishes and make the whole thing official. It is wise to use a lawyer in this step, although it is not a necessity.
Every year thousands of Americans experience life changing illnesses and accidents that they are not prepared for. By taking steps today, you can ensure that your family knows what to do if you are injured or sick and unable to make care decisions on your own. Advance care planning should be an important piece of any family’s security.