Making an advance care plan part of your New Year's resolution
(ARA) - Does your sister make sure to bake your favorite cake on your birthday? Or maybe you and your son always watch your favorite movie on Thanksgiving. Families are close and know lots of special things about one another. As we grow older, there are some very important things that every family should know and discuss, even if they are difficult.
Later in life, we face a variety of health issues and might not be able to care for ourselves like we used to. Making an advance care plan can ease worries for you and your family about what might happen to you if you are unable to make decisions about your own care or about death and dying.
An advance care plan is a written document that helps you to ensure that your care is customized to reflect your personal preferences and health needs, as well as meet your social, cultural and religious requirements. Getting answers to your questions and letting people know what you want at the end of your life can help you feel more in control and give you peace of mind as you go about living your life.
"An advance care plan is a good idea for all adults, regardless of their medical history. Discussing these issues can be difficult, but ultimately the goal is to ease the burden if the situation does arise," says Clyde Yancy, M.D., Chair Education Committee at the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality and duration of life for patients with heart failure and preventing the condition for those at risk.
Many chronic diseases, including but not limited to heart failure, can eventually exhaust all reasonable medical approaches. Planning ahead is important. An advance care plan often includes an advance care directive, a do-not-resuscitate order, a living will, a health care power of attorney and a financial plan.
Advance Care Directive
This document will provide clear directions regarding your medical treatment and can include a living will, a durable health care power of attorney and a statement about organ donation.
This part of the plan tells doctors, nurses and other rescue personnel what they should or should not do when a person stops breathing or when their heart stops beating or is beating so irregularly it threatens life. The order can include instructions on whether to use different types of methods to revive a person.
A living will is usually used during a terminal illness when a person is unable to communicate. It is a legal document that lets a person who is unable to participate in decisions about their medical care express their wishes about life-sustaining treatment.
Health Care Power of Attorney
This allows you to designate another person to make legally binding decisions for you. A health care power of attorney lets someone make all health care decisions for you including the decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment if you are unable to make the decision for yourself.
Health care can be very expensive, especially when treating chronic illnesses. A financial plan is created to help families deal with issues such as paying for medicines, doctor visits and hospital stays.
"Telling people what you want helps them care for you in a way that best meets your wishes," says Yancy. "Even if you do not create a written advance care plan, it is important to let your health care providers, family and other caretakers know about your wishes regarding the future."
To learn more about advance care planning visit the Heart Failure Society of America at www.abouthf.org.
or click www.khq.com/aarp to learn more about Long Term Care plans and a new guide to help Idaho residents identify and compare Long Term Care plans.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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