Health care is serious and should not be ignored.
Very few people look forward to them.
Doctors ask a lot of questions and expect answers.
This helps them determine what is ailing you.
They must also get your permission before administering or removing certain types of treatment or care.
This is simple enough, if you are able to communicate your own wishes.
According to a recent Watertown Public Opinion article titled “Keep medical directives up to date,” this is not always the case.
If you are in a coma, who will communicate your wishes or make health care decisions on your behalf?
This is not something you can afford to put off until it is necessary.
You must be proactive to provide a means of communicating your wishes and designating an agent to make such choices in your stead.
How do you do this?
You will need to work with an estate planning attorney to create medical directives.
You should create a health care treatment directive.
Through this tool, you can provide detailed instructions regarding end-of-life care.
You should also create a durable power of attorney for health care decisions.
This document allows you to legally designate a representative to make decisions regarding your health care should you become incapacitated.
If you choose to name your spouse, you should also designate an alternate individual.
For what reason?
As you age, so will your spouse.
There is no guarantee your spouse will have the mental capacity to make such a decision on your behalf.
Whomever you designate, you should thoroughly discuss your wishes with this individual.
While you are at it, execute an anatomical gift declaration.
This document lets you specify what if anything anatomically you would be willing to donate and for what purpose(s).
You also may make it clear that you are not donating your body or any parts thereof.
The "harvest team" of surgeons at the hospital will be asking your family about this if you are on the bubble of life and death.
Your family (and the surgeons) will be grateful to have written directions from you regarding these difficult discussions.
In our practice we wrap the health care treatment directive, durable power of attorney for health care decisions, and the anatomical gift declaration into on document we call our advance health care directive.
Once the advance health care directive is signed, it must be shared.
At a minimum, make sure each of your appointed agents and all of your physicians (including specialists) have a copy.
Ask the latter to upload it to your EMR (electronic medical record), so it is available and may be shared by medical professionals whenever and wherever needed.
Perhaps this all sounds far too uncomfortable.
These are hard conversations.
Yet, they are necessary.
If your agent does not desire to make such decisions, you should select someone else.
No one can predict the future.
Do not delay.
Reference: Watertown Public Opinion (November 20, 2018) “Keep medical directives up to date”