Planning for the Expected and the Unexpected
Posted: 5/15/2018 3:36 PM by
Sometimes a difficult conversation is the best one to have. An unexpected illness or sudden turn of events can leave us feeling helpless and out of control. The reality is-all of us will one day grow older and pass away. A difficult but necessary topic of discussion is what do we want for ourselves and for our family when illness or sudden death occurs? The difficult choices we all have to make in regard to our “last wishes” may be even harder in a crisis situation.
So where to begin… First of all, we need to understand the necessary documents that help protect our wishes and help our family carry out the things that are most important to us.
Advanced Directives such as Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, and DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders are the primary way we can ensure our personal requests are honored. A newer option called the MOLST form-Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment is a form which is filled out with a physician and is a binding set of doctor orders that follow someone from one level of care to another-for example, home to hospital.
Having these documents prepared ahead of time helps alleviate the stress family members encounter when having to make difficult decisions in regard to end-of-life care. Knowing what your rights are in regard to the type and extent of care you would want to receive helps prevent unwanted and perhaps, unnecessary, medical treatments and interventions. If you are not familiar with how to fill out these documents, having a frank discussion with your physician, family, clergy, or attorney can assist you in getting your thoughts on paper. Having things in writing ensures that your wishes will be honored in the event that you can no longer express what they are. Sometimes people are hesitant to make decisions that feel so “final”-something to note is that these documents can be changed at any time by you should you have a change of heart, as long as you are still capable of making those decisions.
Some things to think about may be how do I feel about pain control, would I want to prolong my life no matter what the outcome or cost, and would I want to avoid any life-sustaining measures altogether or maybe just certain ones. These things can be expressed via a Living Will or MOLST form and discussed with your Health Care Proxy. Once Advanced Directives are filled out, make copies for yourself and your physician and share them with your family. If everyone is on the “same page” in regard to your personal choices, it can help to make a very difficult situation a little easier.
See the links below for additional information on Advanced Directives:
Caroline M. Jackson BS RN CHHC