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Hard Decisions Need To Be Pre-Planned

Hard Decisions Need To Be Pre-Planned

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You may not think that one day you'll find yourself in an emergency room. Unable to give your name or provide a phone number or unconscious and without any way of letting the doctors know your allergies or what medical problems you may have. You may believe you'll never be in a situation where you're not in control. If you believe these things will never happen to you then some day you could be dead wrong.

What if a close friend of yours was lying in a hospital bed unable to make decisions for himself or just shouldn't have the stress of doing so? Suddenly a family member he hasn't been in contact with for several months or years suddenly arrives and takes over... making decisions that you know your friend doesn't want. In fact, he's told you multiple times he doesn't trust his relative and they disagree on everything, but since this person is a relative, they're decisions override your non blood related opinion.

That thought has been dancing in my head for the last couple of days and I finally got to talk with my friend's chosen decision maker. Advance Directive (also called Power of Attorney) for health care decisions is one of the most important decisions patience can make. It's crucial to choose who will retain durable power of attorney for health care decisions while you don't need it. You may not think that you will ever need the services from a trusted friend or relative, but unfortunately, we also put aside the notion that we could be:

  • Mugged
  • Robbed
  • Be in a car accident

When you legalize an Advance Directive document, you choose someone to insure that your decisions and healthcare wishes will be respected and carried out no matter what your ability to understand or communicate is.

Two types of Advance Directives

1.Living Will

2. Designation of Health Care Surrogate - also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

The Living Will document lets your physician(s) and others know your choices regarding the use of life prolonging procedures if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Your physician and your Health Care Surrogate are to follow the directives of the Living Will.

The Designation of Health Care Surrogate document allows you to appoint another adult person to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It is recommended that you appoint an adult who knows your wishes and someone you can trust will carry them out. It is suggested that you choose a person who has exhibited special care and concern for you and has maintained regular contact and is familiar with your personal, religious, moral and cultural beliefs. Your Health Care Surrogate will have the authority to make all medical decisions on your behalf according to your wishes, including but not limited to the withholding/withdrawal of life prolonging procedures.

Issues To Consider

  • Long-term care
  • Guardianship designation
  • Storage & dispersal of property and household items

Choices need to be made regarding measures to prolong life and the possibility of organ donations.

Who will execute the last will and testament?

These are not pleasant issues but when possible, they need to be planned in advance. Discuss the issues with your family or friends you trust. Early discussion helps to avoid doubt and potentially guilt in decisions where the decision maker isn't one hundred percent sure on what you would want.

Make Your Wishes Known

If you are coming to the hospital to be admitted, bring a copy of your Advance Directive with you. Keep your Health Care Surrogate contact information in your wallet or purse.

Don't leave the healthcare decisions up to the state - be prepared

I'm disappointed in the reality that not as many people as I believed would...have not visited him. I'm disappointed that I can research valuable healthcare information in Europe knowing that these advancements of medicine won't reach the states for a minimum of anther five years.

While in his room, my friend asked about the results regarding that morning's surgery. It was after seven in the evening and the results still have not arrived. Part of me felt like screaming at them and anther part of me reminded me that advancements in medicine is a very slow process. I couldn't help but think if this hospital had robot nurses, the surgery results would have been here already and my friend wouldn't have to stress. In the future, medical professionals will be assisted by mobile electronic attendance machines.

I've been visiting my friend in the hospital every day and my brain as well as my body is physically exhausted. Not just from visiting him the hospital, but with work, lack of time in doing personal errands and in considering the thought "That could be me one day."

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