Nothing is more devastating than watching a family member become unable to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes this happens gradually, but other times it can happen suddenly, such as after an accident. Your children or spouse may find themselves unsure of what you want or how you would like your care to proceed. In fact, some states may not allow your family to make decisions at all unless your wishes have been put into writing. That’s why it’s important to make your end of life wishes known while you can.
If you became incapacitated, there are two documents that would help your family make the best end-of-life decisions according to your wishes.The first is a living will, and the second is a power of attorney. While the terms will and power of attorney are also frequently used to refer to financial concerns, you can differentiate with the words “living” and “healthcare”.
These two instruments have roughly the same effect in that they allow someone else to make decisions for you based on clearly defined guidelines. Many times a living will gives enough information for a medical team to understand what you generally want done, such as whether or not you want a Do Not Resuscitate order in place, but it will not go into detail about treating specific illnesses or injuries. By contrast, a healthcare power of attorney specifically assigns an individual to make decisions on a case by case basis depending on their understanding of what you want. Each state has different rules about when those rights kick in and what types of illness they cover.
End of life decisions can be extremely taxing on your loved ones, but legal barriers may also prevent your family from getting you the best care possible unless they have something in writing. By taking the time to address these concerns while you are still able to, you can greatly reduce the difficulty of handling your healthcare if you were to become incapacitated. If your loved ones already know who will be speaking for you and what type of care you want to receive, they can work with your care team more effectively. This results in a higher quality of care delivered with fewer delays.
End of Life decisions are difficult for anyone to make, but you can take steps today to make them easier. If you can approach these decisions with a clear head in advance, your family is more likely to feel confident that they can help you through any healthcare crisis. Of course, you should also be sure to consult with your family members in advance so they will have a heads up on what is in your living will.
Wings of Hope offers a wide range of hospice and palliative care options for patients of all kinds. Our staff can help answer questions about how to make your end of life decisions clear for your friends and family. Contact us today at 602-971-0304 to speak to one of our patient representatives.