an abstract concept about something that will happen out there to someone else at some time in the future. That awareness has caused me to be more intentional in planning for the inevitable.
An essential part of that planning is creating an advance directive regarding the kind of medical care I wish to receive at the end of my life.
Here's what's involved:
- Designate a person to be your patient advocate. Depending on the form and where you live, the advocate may be given a different title. Regardless, this person is given your durable power of attorney for health care and is responsible for making important decisions about your care should you be unable to do so. Forms are available at most doctor's offices and health care facilities, including Arbor Hospice.
- Have the patient advocate sign the form indicating acceptance of the responsibility.
- Create a living will that describes the kind of care you wish to receive at the end of life. Preparation of a living will can be informed and enriched by the use of planning tools such as Five Wishes and the Go Wish Game.
- Have one or more conversations with your patient advocate so he or she knows specifically what you do and do not want. The tools mentioned above can provide ideas and terminology that enable these discussions. Have similar conversations with family, friends and others with whom you are close to avoid confusion or conflict should a situation arise that requires the patient advocate to act on your behalf.
- Make certain that your physicians, health care system and family members know whom you have designated as a patient advocate and that they have copies of your living will. Take your durable power of attorney for health care and living will documents with you if you are hospitalized or are traveling.
We also lessen the likelihood of misunderstanding and conflict among family members as they act on the wishes we've expressed in our living wills.
These are gifts that can extend well beyond our lifetime.
This blog post was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.