National Healthcare Decisions Day
The face of healthcare is continuously changing. The methods of prolonging life are becoming ever-more sophisticated, but in some cases, they can also be more aggressive or invasive to the patient. Consequently, seniors and their families can find themselves weighing the costs and benefits of these advances. Some may want to pursue every avenue of treatment available; for others, the sacrifices in quality of life may not seem worth the time that could be gained. Choices like these are incredibly personal and will vary depending on the individual, health challenge, and type of intervention. All patients have a right to make and stand by their own choices, including refusing a treatment. However, if an individual becomes unable to make or express his or her own health decisions, it can be difficult to discern who should step in, and also to guess at what the person’s preference would be.
While thorny issues like this may be unpleasant to contemplate, addressing them ahead of time can offer better assurance and peace of mind in the long run. April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, aiming to “inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.” Both Residential Home Health and Residential Hospice recognize the value of considering these tough questions ahead of time, documenting your wishes, and communicating them clearly — including naming a trusted proxy to express them with and for you. Read on to learn what kind of decisions may arise, what preparatory steps you can take, and the importance of communication, not only during the decision-making process, but after.
When it comes to healthcare decisions, there are a number of possibilities to carefully consider. In some circumstances, a patient may no longer desire lifesaving interventions like CPR or other forms of resuscitation. Likewise, methods of artificial breathing and feeding may or may not be in line with a patient’s wishes. The NHDD website offers plenty of available resources that cover these and other topics in more depth.
Another vital decision you can make in advance is to name a trusted person to make decisions in keeping with your wishes, should the time come that you cannot do it on your own. Whether this person is assigned only as a ‘healthcare proxy,’ or whether it makes sense to legally pursue ‘durable power of attorney’ status, there are different avenues you can take to make this legally enforceable assignment.
There’s rarely a ‘good time’ to start advance care planning, but fortunately, there are many places to turn. One such aid is The Conversation Project, a website full of real-life stories, reassuring tips, and upbeat online tools to help people of any age clarify what matters to them.
Once this open communication starts, it shouldn’t end with a completed legal document. People don’t automatically know — or ask — if you have an advance directive in place. Instead, it’s a good idea to share your wishes with anyone who might need to know, from your loved ones to your doctor and care team. If you can be open and vocal about what you want, you’ll be better positioned to get it.
While many resources are merely guides and conversation starters, the Five Wishes booklet also serves as a do-it-yourself advance directive. Once completed and properly signed, Five Wishes is a legally binding living will and healthcare proxy assignment in one — as well as covering more personal requests and desires for comfort and dignity at the end of life.
Residents of Michigan can also consider the Peace of Mind Resigstry, a place for digital registration and storage of your completed advance directive document. The secure site also offers answers to common questions, as well as government and local resources for more information.
You can also turn to a professional for more assistance or support. Whether you’re ready to hire an attorney to draw up papers, or you ask your doctor or clinician about having the conversation, there’s no day like today to start your advance care plan.
To determine whether you or your loved one might benefit from any of Residential Home Health’s comprehensive home care services, call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click here to take our Home Care Assessment.