On National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), Russo Law Group would like to focus on and…
People have a tendency to always want to be self-sufficient. They also tend to avoid thinking of a time where they may no longer are able to be. If there is anything the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that we never know what the future may hold for us. Thus, it is important for you, and more importantly your loved ones, to preemptively be prepared. Preparing means giving thought to your medical wishes in the event of life-threatening illnesses or injuries, and appointing someone as your health care proxy who understands your wishes and who will serve as your mouthpiece in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Approximately two-thirds of Americans have not created advance healthcare directives like a healthcare proxy and living will. How many could have used one during the pandemic? Reasons to procrastinate are a reluctance to think about incapacitation or death, believing it does not matter, and not wanting to fill out forms or have a discussion with their doctor. But what about your family? It is heartbreaking to watch family members struggle with emotional decisions when a loved one may be dying. They will want to follow your wishes but may argue over what they believe you would prefer. You can address many medical scenarios ahead of time and have a conversation with family members, so they know where you stand.
Most people over sixty with a serious illness say they would prefer to be kept in comfort at the end, even if that care shortens their life. But where do you draw the line? For each person, this line is very personal, and no one will know how you feel unless you discuss it and document it. Thus, it is important to provide your family and loved ones with clarity. The comfort in knowing your wishes could save a lot of heartache, anguish, and prevent potential life-long rifts amongst family members with differing views. It makes it a lot easier for both those making the decisions, and those who will be affected by the decision, to know that the decision was based upon your expressed wishes. The purpose of advance directives is to provide a road map to your loved ones and your caregivers in cases of emergencies.
The Need to Update Your Advance Directives
Even if you or your loved ones have already done the responsible thing and created advance directives, it is important to review those documents to ensure they reflect what you want under current conditions. Since the pandemic, we now realize it was not a death sentence for every senior. We might now choose a ventilator, at least for a period of time, until we are more certain of the prognosis. As we age, we may change how we feel about different treatments and circumstances.
Because we can not address every situation, we give a healthcare proxy the tools to make decisions based on our beliefs. The person we choose may change due to life events. They may predecease you or be an ex-spouse, or be incapacitated and unable to serve, thus it is important to reassess your appointments and to update your documents accordingly.
Healthcare providers are ethically obligated to do everything feasible to keep us alive, even when there is little chance of recovery. During that time, medical bills may pile up unnecessarily. If we have no advance directives in place, the system will take over – and families can end up in long-lasting anguish after making the final call. Do not let that happen. Think through some tough questions for yourself and talk with a person you trust so they are prepared to carry out your wishes should it become necessary.