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Advance Directives – The Time to Discuss is BEFORE You Need Them

By: Sherry Netherland, Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services

Before you prepare your advance directives:

  • Decide what types of treatment you would want or would not want.  If you are now ill, Get information on the types of life-sustaining treatments that are available.
  • Share your end-of-life wishes and preferences with your loved ones (See The Five      Wishes below.)

Preparing your own advance directives:

  • You do not need a lawyer to prepare advance directives.
  • Make sure you prepare your advance directive to accurately reflect your      decisions.
  • Complete your state-specific advance directives. (http://www.caringinfo.org)
  • In most states, you can include special requests in your advance directives such      as wishes about organ donation, cremation or burial.
  • You also should be sure to make your physician and loved ones aware of your      specific requests so appropriate referrals and arrangements can be made.
  • Ask someone else to look over the documents for you to be sure that you have filled them out correctly.
  • Read all of the instructions carefully to ensure that you have included all of the      necessary information and that your documents are witnessed properly.

What to do after your advance directives are signed:

  • Make several photocopies of the completed documents.
  • Keep the original documents in a safe but easily accessible place, and tell others      where you put them; you can note on the photocopies the location where the      originals are kept.
  • DO NOT KEEP YOUR ADVANCE DIRECTIVES IN A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX. Other people may need access to them.
  • Be sure your doctors have copies of your advance directives and give copies to everyone who might be involved with your healthcare, such as your family, clergy,      or friends. Your local hospital might also be willing to file your advance      directives in case you are admitted in the future.

The Five Wishes

WISH 1: The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t

This section is an assignment of a health care agent (also called proxy, surrogate, representative or health care power of attorney). This person makes medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself.

WISH 2: The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want

This section is a living will—a definition of what life support treatment means to you, and when you would and would not want it.

WISH 3: How Comfortable I Want to Be

This section addresses matters of comfort care—what type of pain management you would like, personal grooming and bathing instructions, and whether you would like to know about options for hospice care, among others

WISH 4: How I Want People to Treat Me

This section speaks to personal matters, such as whether you would like to be at home, whether you would like someone to pray at your bedside, among others.

WISH 5: What I Want My Loved Ones to Know

This section deals with matters of forgiveness, how you wish to be remembered and final wishes regarding funeral or memorial plans.

Assisted Home Hospice (http://assisted1.com/hospice) is a Medicare certified hospice program providing compassionate, comprehensive care to terminally ill patients in their home. A person is eligible for home hospice when life expectancy is six months or less if the disease follows its normal course. Home hospice care means the terminally ill patient is no longer seeking active treatment for their disease. Comfort and pain management are the primary concern. Home hospice care enables the patient and their family to continue life as normally as possible.

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