Death is inevitable but most Americans refused to talk about it. We all wished to not wake up and go into eternal sleep, peacefully in bed in our own home. But the reality is Americans tend to die hooked up to machines and tubes and round-the-clock care.
If it is inevitable, why not plan for it? No, I am not talking about planning the flowers, songs, program of events or buying plot (or perhaps, opting for cremation). I am talking about pre-arranging and planning for the end of life which can occur in months, years or decades. The whole purpose of planning is to allow your family to calmly execute your wishes and not leave them scrambling to make arrangements on how they think you might have wanted.
There are two (2) documents every adult should have so that your medical team will know your intentions.
1) Advance Directive (also known as) Living Will. This spells out wishes regarding what medical care you don't want ("Do not Resuscitate, please"), what you do want ("give me every treatment known to man"), and organ donation.
2) Durable Power of Attorney (or) Healthcare Proxy. This person will speak for you when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. This can be the person closest to you or not. Sometimes people choose their sibling or a friend over their spouse because they don't want to put the pressure on their loved one.
An attorney can help you prepare both Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney. BUT there are other alternative documents that are legal and written in everyday language.
1) POLST (Physican's Order for Life Sustaining Treatment). The POLST Form is a set of medical orders, similar to the do-not resuscitate (allow natural death) order. The form is completed after the process of informed and shared decision making and requires to be signed by a physician to make it legal.
* POLST isn't for everyone; best for someone with serious illness
* POLST is not an advance directive.
* POLST does not substitute for naming a health care agent or durable power of attorney for health care.
2) Five Wishes. Very easy to read and understand in layman terms. This form allows you to express how you want to be treated when you are seriously ill and no longer able to speak for yourself;
* Healthcare proxy is appointed,
* Type of treatments you want and don't want,
* Personal, Emotional and Spiritual Care wishes
Also remember that we are living in digital world. If you do your bills electronically, changes usernames and passwords frequently; and uses Facebook or Twitter --- think about how your loved one can access your information at the appropriate time. There are many online platforms that allows digitizing every documents you have and YES, Facebook has "legacy contact" settings as well.
The best time to plan for advanced care planning is before it's actually needed. The planning should not be just for people who are seriously ill or frail; but for people of all ages. These documents are not written in stone and can be altered. Medical Professionals understand that these forms are your wishes, but you can revoke/change your mind.
Set an example for your family. Be a teacher and show your loved one that it is possible to die without causing so much family friction. Give the gift of advanced-planning to the people you love. Afterall, everyone will eventually die when it is your time. But how you face the final days is up to you.
For more information
Advance Care Planning: http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289
Five Wishes: https://www.agingwithdignity.org/five-wishes/about-five-wishes
Secured and Digital Panning: https://www.everplans.com
Furthermore, we are available to assist you in getting your wishes done.