DO YOU KNOW WHAT AN ADVANCED DIRECTIVE IS?
An advanced directive is exactly what it sounds like. Giving direction ahead of time.
Most people don’t know about advanced directives, however if you are:
* Over 18 years of age
* Healthy or chronically ill
* Love your friends and family
* Don’t want to suffer
Advanced directives are exactly for you. In other words EVERYONE OVER 18 NEEDS TO HAVE ADVANCED DIRECTIVES IN PLACE.
1) One form of advanced directive is a Healthcare Proxy or HCP, and it is an important tool to have.
A HCP is a tool that you can complete on your own with two witnesses. It’s used to appoint a person close to you to act on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
Who doesn’t want that?
After all although you love your doctor, or perhaps you are in an emergency and just met your doctor, your doctor may or may not know you. Doctors are also trained and expected to protect and sustain life. A HCP allows you to have a voice when you are unable to communicate (verbally or non-verbally) for yourself.
The person or persons you appoint, MUST BE OVER 18 YEARS OF AGE and YOU MUST HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THEM ABOUT YOUR WISHES.
Please do not let this be a surprise to them, they need to know that they are your messenger because you trust them to do what you would want done, so tell them.
There are times where medical crisis occurs that require support in any or all of the following areas, for those times you more than likely will be advised by a medical doctor about what the pros and cons are, why it is needed, and if it has potential to help. During those times if you are unable to speak for youself because you are not alert and/or too sick to make the decision it is important to have an appointed HCP.
Having a HCP passes the decision making to someone who has previously spoken with you and knows your wishes. This cuts back on having conlict amongst your loved ones in a time of crisis, because you have already appointed someone to speak on your behalf and they have the written proof to do so.
AREAS ADDRESSED BY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROXY:
Your wishes about:
RESUSCITATION: Of course in an emergency situation medical personnel will do their best to help you to breath on your own or give assistance in order to transport you to a hospital unless you have a DNR, Do Not Resuscitate order, which is signed and agreed upon by a medical doctor. If you are reading this, you more than likely already have a HCP.
Resuscitation for most people who have read this far is the actions needed to get you breathing again, however in a situation where recover is unlikely you may have specific views about this. So once you get to the hospital it is important that your HCP knows your wishes regarding resuscitation.
NUTRITION: If you are unable to speak for yourself chances are you are not eating either, however your body needs nutrition to be kept alive. In this situation your HCP can make a decision based on your conversation or how much you have outlined with them what your wishes are. It is important for your HCP to know specifically your wishes with regard to this, of course contingent on your doctor giving the information about your situation and prognosis (anticipated outcome).
HYDRATION: AGAIN, If you are unable to speak for yourself chances are you are not drinking, fluids are necessary to keep your body systems operating optimally. Doctors can change and or maintain your body chemistry using hydration and keep your body alive a long time. It is important for your HCP to know specifically your wishes with regard to this, of course contingent on your doctor giving the information about your situation and prognosis (anticipated outcome).
COMFORT: When in a medical crisis that is chronic or life threatening, if you can not speak for yourself, most of us want to be kept comfortable. Of course any medical facility will keep you dry, and clean. The type of comfort in a crisis situation is usually with regard to pain managment and perhaps other medications needed to support you.
What many do not realize that with any drug intervention there are potential benefits and risks, your HCP will speak to your doctor about this. Any pain med or sedative can interact with an already compromised body, slowing down systems so that the body has a chance to heal. Sometimes this can also expedite a situation that is already declining and lead inevitably to end of life. (again your medical doctor can more thoroughly explain how drug interactions can affect life and death)
Let’s face it we all want to live to a ripe old age, healthy, wealthy and wise, but sometimes situations happen that can effect that.
In the even that you are in that situation, it is always best to have had this outlined with your Health Care Proxy (HCP) so that he/she can step in and get you the treatment you would’ve wanted, allowed or requested yourself.
This is the no judgement zone for sure so think about it and if you’d like to have an advanced directive discussion contact us.
For your convenience here is the link to the NYS form, forms may vary per state and may be updated periodically, so please verify that you are using the latest form.
For your HCP (Healthcare Proxy) to be valid your witnesses CAN NOT be the HCP.
Your witnesses MUST BE 2 people over the age of 18 who are not your HCP.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU COMPLETE THE FORM:
Hidden in your dresser drawer this form does no good. As a homecare provider for several years I’ve suggested to keep the form:
* On your person (scan it and put it in your cell phone (always good to do with important info: Incase of emergency/ICE #, driver’s license, registration, insurance for car, home, medical, business, Social Security #, etc…)
* On the refrigerator door (Emergency personnel are trained to look there)
* With your medical record at your doctor’s office
* With your HCP (Healthcare Proxy)
OTHER ADVANCED DIRECTIVES:
3) LIVING WILLS
More specific way to legal have your medical wishes honored.
4) POWER OF ATTORNEY
Appoints someone to be your financial agent.
5) ORGAN DONATION
Gives right to your organs for the purpose of transplant or research.