An advance healthcare directive is a healthcare power of attorney and living will in a single document. The document will provide instruction on who will make the medical decisions for another individual but also what the principal wants in the event that they become the end of life or have an “end-stage medical” condition. Many people who come into our office tell us that their family knows what they want and that they can take care of it. I cannot stress or urge enough to not fall into this thought pattern. End-of-life decisions are very unique to each and every one of us. It is very easy to tell your family member what your wishes are but it’s very different for a family member to have to verbalize to a doctor to withdraw treatment and see their loved one pass within minutes. There is no more emotional decision that I have ever experienced in my practice and wish that stress and emotion on nobody.
Oftentimes, people believe that there is a right or wrong answer to the question as to whether you want heroic and lifesaving measures if there is no hope. There are so many things that go into this decision such as our personal lives and goals and beliefs as well as religion. I certainly do not believe that I have the right answer as to what everybody should do but I do know that whatever the individual wants is the right answer for that person, and therefore, that should be what is in writing and that should be what we follow. Families generally have no issue or fighting as long as they know exactly what the individual wanted and know that they are carrying out the wishes of that individual. The fighting and stress start to set in when it is not clear what the person wanted and family members start jockeying for position and who knew exactly what the individual wanted. Please take the stress out of end-of-life decisions for your family and not allow those decisions to be the center of debate and fights in a hospital. Take the time to put your wishes in writing in an advance healthcare directive so that everybody knows exactly what you want. This will save your family lots of heartaches but, most importantly, will give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed.
If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions while you make decisions about long-term care, please give us a call at 717-845-5390 or click the link here and we will contact you.