“Paperwork, including a living will and health care power of attorney, can convey your treatment preferences, if you are ever unable to make medical decisions for yourself.”
While you may believe you’ve covered your bases by completing an advance directive detailing your preferences for end-of-life care, that may not be enough. You still need to make sure your family fully understands your wishes, updating your directive regularly and making the document easily accessible to those who need it.
Kiplinger’s recent article, “Advance Directive: Ensure End-of-Life Wishes Honored,” notes that many folks say, “My family knows what I want, so I’m covered.” But too frequently, that’s not the case.
If you haven’t drafted an advance directive or named a health care proxy, or your loved ones can’t locate it in an emergency, chances are good that your wishes won’t be honored.
If you don’t have an advance directive, create one now and share it.
An advance directive, which usually refers to a living will and a health care power of attorney, should state your preferences for medical treatment in an accident or at the end of your life. It should also designate an agent to make decisions on your behalf, if you’re incapacitated.
Make copies and give them to family members and your medical team. Keep your copies where they can be easily located.
Be certain that your loved ones are clear about your wishes and are willing to carry them out. Have a family conversation that includes as many people as possible, including adult grandchildren. Let them know your preferences, such as: Do you want to be kept alive on a ventilator? Are you willing to live in a nursing home?
Next, ask a trusted relative or friend to be your health care agent. Choose a person who can handle the responsibility and discuss it in depth.
Update your directive regularly and use the “five Ds”: a new decade of life, death of a family member, divorce, new diagnosis, or a medical decline, as events that should trigger an update of your documents.
Reference: Kiplinger (February 5, 2018) “Advance Directive: Ensure End-of-Life Wishes Honored”