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When a loved one is diagnosed with a life-ending illness, many thoughts and emotions flood your mind. Common thoughts at this moment are “I’m not ready for this”, “I need more time” and “why is this happening”. The harsh truth is no matter if you are prepared for it or not, it is happening and you will not have as much time as you would like. Although you may never be mentally and emotionally prepared to lose someone close to your heart, you can help to prepare your loved one for their final days by completing a voluntary form called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) or Medical Orders for Life- Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) depending on where you reside.
These documents have been adopted or developed in 43 states. In New York, the MOLST form is used. The document is to be signed by the patient, the patient’s health care agent or surrogate and a qualified health care professional. The goal of POLST and MOST alike, is to honor patient’s treatment preferences concerning life-sustaining treatments. The form includes the patient’s wishes regarding CPR and intensive care. These forms are also revocable at any time and relatively easy to alter.
POLST and MOLST forms are complementary to advanced directives your loved one may have put in place with an elder law attorney. There is no substitute for a Health Care Proxy and Living Will which can ensure that your designated agent is the one making health care decisions for you and that you have expressed your desires regarding end of life care under your Living Will.
However, if no advanced directives such as a health care proxy, durable power of attorney or living will were previously arranged, the POLST or MOLST forms are meant to be implemented in situations where patients poor health indicates that decisions might need to be made in a relatively short time frame.
By Marissa Kleiner– Guest Blogger