Here are two words that may make you stop reading this blog: aging and dying. Luckily, both of these issues are coming out of the closet and allowing people to make future planning easier. Now that Medicare pays for doctors to actually talk with their patients about end-of-life issues, this could be another incentive for families to have the big discussions.
Once we have these discussions, it’s important to carry through by completing an advance directive. That’s the legal term for something that is basically a living will. They are written instructions to your doctor and family about how you want to receive treatment if you are unable to voice your preferences. If you’ve ever been through the experience of having a loved one with either a terminal illness or traumatic serious event, you know how stressful the whole situation is. If, in addition, you have to make some very serious choices on their behalf it is an amazing comfort to know you are taking the road that they would have wanted you to.
With all of the high medical technologies available to us now it is important to consider while we are well and have our wits about us what we really want to have done if we are in an end of life situation. Do you want feeding tubes? Do you want IV’s? Do you want people massaging you? Do you want music playing? What kind of music? Do you want to be put on a respirator? These are tough questions, but they really do need answers. Even if it’s not that important to you what happens, just think of the comfort it will be giving your survivors to know what decisions to make.
Once you do the paperwork, remember that whatever you put there is not set in stone. You can change it at any time if you are conscious. At the end of this blog I will give you two resources online that have documents you can download and print or fill out online. Both are considered legal documents in Arizona.
The first one is the “Arizona Advance Health Care Directive.” It has three parts which discuss who you want to be as your advocate if you can’t make the decisions yourself. The second and third parts concern making your healthcare choices. It walks you through the whole process of what you need to do to fill out the form and then what you do with it when you’re finished. It’s very simple and accessible.
The second one is called the “Five Wishes.” It too is a legal document in Arizona. This one goes more into personal preferences for someone with a terminal illness. It ranges from who is the person you want to make the final decisions for you, to what does “life support treatment” mean, to comfort measures you may like to have, and much more.
Casa de la Luz Foundation is proud to be the first in the nation to offer Five Wishes online free of charge. Five Wishes online was awarded a national Web Health Award as a high-quality digital health resource for consumers and health professionals.
I know this doesn’t seem like an easy task. However, these discussions and documents can enrich your families and loved ones’ relationships. You can also feel a sense of relief and comfort knowing what to do in a crucial situation.