“Advance care planning is making preparations and decisions about the medical care you want to receive, if you become unable to speak for yourself.”
Talking with your family and your physician ahead of time about what you would want if you should become incapacitated, is a difficult but necessary conversation, reports The Herald News in the article “Being Prepared: Advanced Directives.” An Advanced Directive is a key part of your estate plan. If you have reached the age of majority (age 18 in most states), then you need to have this document.
An estate planning attorney can help you ensure that you have an Advanced Directive in place which conveys your wishes to your loved ones. Discuss this ahead of time and let your family members know what you would want to happen in advance.
Select a person you know and trust to be your healthcare agent. Tell them you have selected them to serve in that role. Don’t let this be a surprise to them at the last minute. They will need to fully understand your wishes and be willing to carry them out.
Be as specific as you can about what kind of treatment you would want and which you would not. That includes medical ventilation, a feeding tube, kidney dialysis and other treatments.
Do you want to be resuscitated if you stop breathing, or have CPR performed if your heart stops working? You’ll want to have a DNR—Do Not Resuscitate—if you don’t want extreme measures to be taken to keep you alive.
Once you have made your decisions, meet with an estate planning attorney to complete a written advanced directive.
States have different sets of rules regarding advanced care directives, so an estate planning attorney in your state of residence is necessary.
You should keep your advanced directive and DNR document, where someone can get them if an emergency occurs. Do not give it to a relative who lives two states away—they will not get to you in time. Be sure that everyone involved with your healthcare has a copy. This includes your primary care physician. Ask that your directive be maintained in your official medical file.
If you are wondering how or when to have this conversation about a loved one’s end-of-life preferences, the answer is now. Start by sharing your own wishes and then ask them to share theirs. Ask if they have made the proper preparations for their wishes to be carried out and discuss what must happen to have their wishes followed.
It’s not the happiest conversation you’ll ever have. However, if an emergency occurs, your loved ones will have peace of mind knowing they did what you wanted. You’ll also have peace of mind.
Resource: The Herald News (Aug. 10, 2018) “Being Prepared: Advanced Directives”