If you had a medical emergency and were unable to speak for yourself, would your loved ones know what you wanted? This is the importance of an advance directive for healthcare.
We often put off talking about—or even thinking about!—our own end-of-life care decisions because it can be so uncomfortable. It might be easier not to worry about it right now and consider putting your wishes into writing tomorrow, or next month, or next year. But it is important to reflect on what matters to you and to share those desires with your family, loved ones, and doctors so they know how to make decisions for you if you aren’t able to make them for yourself someday.
Planning Your Advance Directive
An advance directive (also known as a durable power of attorney) is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the types of treatments you may want at the end of life. Once completed, it is signed, dated, and witnessed.
Unlike a living will, which only addresses your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatments, an advance directive allows you to name a person or “agent” you can trust to make decisions for you. These documents become effective only when you can no longer communicate decisions yourself.
Why Do I Need One?
An advance directive for healthcare gives you a voice in your medical treatment even when you are unable to communicate for yourself, and ensures that you have some level of control over your own medical decisions in the case of an accident or emergency, or at the end of life.
Creating an advance directive involves conversations with your family members or loved ones. Gwen Harris, Geriatric Care Manager with the Palliative Care Program at Seniors At Home says, “Sharing your wishes for the end of life is a huge relief and a gift to your family and loved ones. They will never have to guess or worry about making a wrong decision.”
An advance directive empowers your loved ones to confidently make care decisions on your behalf that they know you would make for yourself.
Gwen also recommends that everyone over the age of 18 create an advance directive for healthcare, and review it every five years. After age 50 she suggests taking a close look annually and adjusting it if there have been any changes in your wishes or in your health.
Get Help Putting an Advance Directive into Place
Creating an advance directive doesn’t require you to hire expensive attorneys or learn legal jargon. Seniors At Home can help you through the process of creating your document and preparing yourself for important conversations with your family and loved ones.
For those who prefer a private and tailored approach, personalized advance care planning sessions are available. In your planning session you will meet with a medical professional and our expert team to address your questions about healthcare decision-making, and create or revise an advance directive.
Personalized advance care planning sessions are covered by Medicare and are available for a fee to those without Medicare.
To schedule an advance care planning session, or with any questions about aging or senior care, call us today at 415-449-3777 or contact us online.