Advance Health Care Directives Revisited
We’ve discussed it before, but now knowing my history, let’s hit it again. The Advanced Health Care Directive.
As we discussed in an earlier post, the health care directive is a tool that helps your family make decisions about your end-of-life care. It does so by appointing an agent who is aware of and has the authority to carry out your medical wishes, such hiring or firing health care providers, consenting to admission or transfer to a health care facility, asking for consultations or second opinions, or continuing or discontinuing life support.
I actually have personal experience with this very thing. Because my grandpa did not have an Advanced Health Care Directive, he put my dad and me in a difficult spot when he got sick. We had to decide if he should stay connected to a machine that would prolong his life, or if he should be released from that machine. At the time, I felt the best thing was to release him from the machine. But I did not consider how that decision would affect my siblings. My sister, Cyndie, was living in Washington State. It did not even dawn on me to keep grandpa alive until she got to come and say goodbye.
Had Grandpa communicated his health care decisions to my dad, my dad and I wouldn’t have had to carry the weight of such a heavy decision, and the guilt that has resulted from it.
The main key of the health directive is to ensure that whoever is making the decisions is basing it off your desires, not what they want or think is best. In my grandpa’s case, he could have directed that he wanted to stay on life support until all of his living heirs had the opportunity to say goodbye. By doing so, it would have reminded us all that everyone needs that chance to say goodbye.
Some things that would have helped in my situation are (i) knowing what my grandpa wanted; (ii) being able to access the information; and (iii) being able to talk to the other family members about what my grandpa wanted.
A health care directive is not permanent. You can change or amend it at any time. It just gives others a plan of action to follow when you are unable to make a plan for yourself. It’s preplanning. No one goes on vacation without researching the weather, the location and the things to do. Why would you not have a plan of action for when you are unable to speak?
There are times you may wish to change your plan of action. For example, my brother was diagnosed with cancer more than five years ago. At the time, his family consisted of him, his wife, and their two children. So, his health directive may have been less complicated and simply stated that he did not want any treatment to prolong his life if he were unconscious. But, his family has grown, and now he has a grandson, a wonderful son-in-law, and a wonderful daughter-in-law. He may desire to hang on a little longer. Also, with how technology is always changing, you may desire to stay on the machines to have the chance to come back.
My point, and you can see that I am passionate about this, is please do not leave your family guessing. Do not put your loved ones in a position where they have to choose for you. It’s hard on them. They have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Have a plan of action. I promise you it is worth it.
Let me use my experience for your benefit. Please contact me today for a free consultation and we can discuss how to create an advance health care directive for you or your loved ones.