National Health Care Decison Day is April 16th. Have You Had the Conversation?

The National Health Care Decision Day, which is April 16th, has been an annual event for a long time, but this year it will be held over a week to give people more opportunities to learn about how important it is that they plan ahead and have the right legal documents in place. This year’s event also aims at educating people on how crucial these conversations are with their loved ones so everyone can feel confident when medical issues arise.

Family members often battle each other over the decisions that their loved one would have wanted to make in a health care crisis. With an aging population, we will continue to hear more stories like this.

Far too many people assume that their families would make the choices they would want in an emergency because they are close with them and know what is best for them, when it’s not always true. Everyday we hear of adult children, siblings or other relatives battling during a health care crisis over “what their loved one would have wanted” in that situation. With an aging population such as ours continuing into the future, these types of stories will be commonplace and heartbreakingly normal.

The Terry Schiavo case is a great example of how people who are deemed as having a permanent vegetative state have no right to decide what will happen to their bodies. At the young age of 26, Terry suffered sudden cardiac arrest and slipped into a permanent vegetative state. She never documented her wishes about treatment options such as feeding tubes, long-term care, and life support. This left her family battling for years in court over these issues because she never spoke up before being stricken with this disease.

It is important to discuss your health care wishes in advance, as it can help avoid a similar legal mess should you become incapacitated or become disabled. However, this does not stop the need to take more steps. You must also clearly document your preferences and choose an “Agent” who will make decisions on what’s best for you if you are unable to speak up for yourself.

It’s so important to have your own words written down when it comes to delicate situations. Legal documents, including Medical Powers of Attorney, are great sources of protection in case an emergency arises, but they’re not the only way you can ensure that family members will know what you want to be done if something happens. If you write a letter describing how you’d like things handled, or include instructions with your living will or personal care plan, for example, then even if someone disagrees about what is best for you during a crisis situation, all parties involved can work from the same foundation of knowledge about what is most important to your loved ones.

It’s National Health Care Decisions Day, so it’s time to set aside some time this week to talk with your loved ones about your medical preferences for either long-term care or what should happen if you didn’t wake up from a coma. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Whom do you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf?
  • How do you feel about feeding tubes, life support and other artificial life saving devices?
  • Is there any type of medical care you would NEVER want?
  • If you were permanently disabled or incapacitated, what things would contribute or take away from your “quality of life”?
  • What are your thoughts on nursing home vs. in-home health care?
  • How would you like your family to pay for the care you may need if co-pays become excessive or insurance does not cover your treatment?

One final key point to consider when documenting your wishes and choosing the healthcare agent that will ultimately carry them out is that the person you choose should want to have this responsibility. There are people who do not want, or can not handle making medical decisions– even for their own spouse. This could lead to a lot of resentment on both sides if it’s something one person feels they must do for another without any enjoyment in it themselves.

When it comes to your end of life care, you want the decision maker to be someone who is going to take the time and make the tough decisions when you are no longer able.

Give our office a call at 844-885-4200 to start the process of legally documenting your health care wishes.

Castle Wealth Group Legal in Media

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