On this episode of Health Futures Taking Stock in You, host Bob Roth interviews Carla Sutter, Operations Manager for the healthcare directives registry at Contexture. They discuss the importance of advanced care planning and directives to make your end-of-life healthcare wishes known.
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Thinking about your future healthcare needs can be difficult, but advance care planning is essential to ensure your wishes are followed if you become seriously ill or incapacitated. Proper advance directives like living wills and healthcare power of attorney documents allow you to maintain control over your medical treatment. This planning provides peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.
What Are Advance Directives?
Advance directives are legal documents that specify your preferences for medical care in situations when you cannot speak for yourself. The main types are:
- Living Will – This details the types of life-sustaining treatment you want to receive. It covers scenarios like being in a vegetative state or having an incurable terminal illness.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney – This names an agent or surrogate decision maker who can make medical choices according to your wishes if you become incapacitated.
- Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) – This tells medical teams not to perform CPR or other interventions to restart your heart or breathing. This is for late-stage terminal illnesses.
- Mental Health Power of Attorney – This gives authority for behavioral or psychiatric treatment decisions to an appointed agent.
Why Plan Now?
Advance care planning is important at any age, but especially crucial for seniors and those with chronic medical conditions. Nationally, only about 30% of adults have completed directives. Proper planning ensures:
- Your care aligns with personal values and preferences.
- Family members understand your wishes so the burden isn’t on them to guess.
- Caregivers can avoid unwanted, expensive, invasive treatments near death.
- You aren’t stuck with default state surrogate decision maker laws.
How Do I Create Advance Directives?
- Consider your values and priorities for care in different scenarios.
- Choose a trusted person as your healthcare agent and discuss wishes with them.
- Complete valid advance directive forms that are signed/witnessed.
- Give copies to your healthcare agent, family, doctor, and medical facilities.
- Upload documents to your state’s advance directives registry.
Be sure to review your directives periodically as your health changes. Discussing end-of-life care isn’t easy but planning now helps ensure your choices are honored in the future. Reach out to your doctor for guidance.