Advanced Directives Information:Think About It Now!
Creating your individual guidelines to direct your wishes in the event you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself should be made in a unrushed, thoughtful manner over time with your spouse, family, lawyer and physician, and be well thought-out with a long-term view. We encourage our clients of all ages to make these choices now and complete all appropriate documents.
We at Executive Healthcare Services hope the below information is useful in directing this discussion and finalizing your plans.
Important terms to understand are advanced care planning, advance directives, living will, durable power of attorney, and the terms "do not resuscitate", "terminal condition" and "life support". Someone with knowledge of these terms needs to discuss frankly what they mean to you and your loved ones. Advanced directive are important for all of us, regardless of our current health status. Having this information prepared in advance may provide you, your family, and your physicians much needed direction and less anxiety at what could be a very difficult time for all.
What is advance care planning?
Talking with your doctor about your wishes for medical care at the end of your life is called advance care planning. It's a way for you and your doctor to discuss the kinds of care you want and the kinds of care you don't want at that time. You can tell your doctor about the care you would want if you become unable to make decisions because of a coma or another medical condition that leaves you unable to decide or to speak for yourself. When you write down your wishes, this kind of plan is called an advance directive.
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is a form (see sample advance directive form) that tells your doctor and your family members what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions. It's called an advance directive because you choose your medical care before you become seriously ill.
When you're admitted to a hospital, the staff must tell you about advance directives. The laws about advance directives are different in each state.
An advance directive lets you say you don't want a certain treatment, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (also called CPR). For example, if you have a fatal illness and are near death, you may not want to have CPR if your heart stops. An advance directive can also say that you do want certain treatments, like medicine for pain, or intravenous fluids and tube feedings.
An advance directive also lets you name someone, like your spouse or another close family member, to make decisions for you if you lose your ability to communicate. This is called a durable power of attorney for health care.
What is a durable power of attorney for health care?
A durable power of attorney for health care (also called a DPA) lets you name someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for any reason. A DPA can be part of the advance directive form. If you don't know a person you can trust to make these decisions for you, the DPA may not be right for you.
What is a living will?
A living will is another kind of advance directive. It only comes into effect if you're terminally ill. Being terminally ill generally means that you have less than six months to live. In a living will, you can say what kind of treatment you want in certain situations. In this way, a living will is like an advance directive. But a living will doesn't let you name someone to make decisions for you. A DPA is generally more useful than a living will because a DPA lets you name someone to make decisions in your behalf.
If I'm healthy, why should I make an advance directive?
When you're healthy, it's hard to think about the care you want at the end of your life. But it may be the best time to make these decisions. An accident or serious illness can happen any time. Talking with your doctor now gives you a chance to ask questions and talk about your concerns. If you do this when you're healthy, you'll be thinking clearly as you talk about this important topic.
How can I write an advance directive?
Advance directives and living wills are not complicated. They can be short, simple statements about what you want done or not done if you can't speak for yourself. Remember, anything you write by yourself or with a computer software package should follow your state laws. So, find out what the laws are in your state. Consult with an attorney. If possible, get your advance directive notarized. Give copies to a family member and to your doctor (See Quick Link section in this Newsletter for websites).
*Above was taken from American Family Physician Vol. 59/No. 3 (February 1, 1999)
Some Last Things to remember
A study in 2002 conclude that discrepancies in the interpretation of living wills occur for the following reasons: patients frequently draft living wills without physician input; the definition of "terminal condition" is not absolute; and patients may have a poor understanding of "life support" and the probability of good survival after CPR.
- It is essential that you have honest and open discussions with your appointed health care agent, doctor(s), clergy, and family and friends about your wishes concerning medical treatment. Discuss your wishes with them often, especially if your medical condition changes.
- If you wish to make changes to the directives, you should complete new documents.
- You can always revoke your directives. If you choose to revoke your documents, make sure you notify your health care agent, alternate agents, your family and your doctor.
If any of you have questions, please feel free to email or call at anytime. We want to make this difficult task as easy as possible. It is time well spent and, hopefully, information that will not be needed for many, many years.
Your EHS Physicians
The EHS DifferenceEHS offers individuals, families and our partner-companies' key employees the synergy of an exceptional, annual Executive Physical along with the even more important, 24-7-365 personalized care and follow-up necessary for optimization of one's health.
Through our healthcare-concierge services and personalized care, we make healthcare convenient and hassle free for our clients. We are your partner in decision making and your medical advocate. THe EHS care model represents the medical care you need and the piece of mind you deserve in todays hectic, fragmented, impersonal health care system.
For our corporate partners, this results not only in better health for key employees, but improved productivity (reduced absenteeism and presenteeism), improved recruitment and retention of key personnel, and a proven positive return on investment.
Yours in Health,
Executive Healthcare Services
Let us help you decide what’s best.
VISIT: 12040 South Lakes
Drive, Suite 204
Reston, Virginia 20191
VISIT: 12040 South Lakes
Drive, Suite 204
Reston, Virginia 20191