Advanced medical directives are a tough subject. Why? Because they can mean making some tough choices about life and death. Literally.
For elderly loved ones in nursing homes, however, there is a very powerful tool found in a little known directive known as the “do not hospitalize” directive. Unfortunately, it also happens to be underused and misunderstood, as pointed out in recent article in The New Old Age Blog titled simply “A Misunderstood Directive.”
Advanced directives, as you may well know, are your medical choices reduced to black and white. They are intended to speak for you when you cannot. “Do not hospitalize” does not mean you do not want to receive care. In fact, you can even spell out various circumstances when you would want to go to the hospital.
Going to the hospital is not always the best (or only) alternative. For instance, hospitalization itself can be an intensely disorienting process for patients with advanced dementia. Little surprise, then, that more than half of all elderly patients with dementia who are transferred from the nursing home to a hospital and back will pass away within the following 18 months. Accordingly, hospitalization can be a most unfortunate step in the care process.
In can also be an unnecessary step in Overland Park and elsewhere.
Most nursing home patients are sent to the hospital for respiratory infections, which is both avoidable and treatable in a nursing home setting without much trouble. On the other hand, the “do not hospitalize” directive can still provide that a broken bone or the replacement of a medical device can trigger a hospital visit if you so stipulate.
While advanced directives do some important work, according to some the “do not hospitalize” directive can help assure more peaceful late-in-life care.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age Blog (November 20, 2013) “A Misunderstood Directive”