The best way to make sure your health care wishes are known and followed is to do some advance health care planning and complete a living will. Advance directives aren't just for the elderly or frail; in fact, the best time to complete your first advance directive is when you are young and healthy and then update your documents as you age or your health condition changes.
Follow these four easy steps to make your own health care decisions and document them properly.
Consider your intended goals of care for situations that may apply to you. There are three general goals for medical care:
- Cure. This is the standard we are all used to. Nearly all health care is directed towards this goal. We get sick, we go to the doctor for treatment, and hopefully we are cured.
- Stabilization. Sometimes we can’t be cured. Many diseases are incurable but can be stabilized with proper medical treatment.
- Comfort Only. This is the palliative care or hospice approach to care. It is the beginning of preparing for a comfortable and dignified death.
2. Consider Treatment Options
In all advance planning documents, you are asked to make important decisions about the extent of care you want. Some treatments you will want to know about and consider as you plan ahead include:
3. Complete the Right Document
There are several documents to choose from when completing your advance planning. Some are very basic while others dig a little deeper into your preferences. Familiarize yourself with the various documents before deciding which one is right for you.
4. Have the Talk...Often
It's not enough to complete a few forms and expect your wishes to be honored. To quote the most horrific statement I've ever heard uttered by a physician in an ICU, "A dead patient can't sue me, but his family sure can." He was explaining to me why he was ignoring a patient's advance directive and honoring the wishes of the family instead. It's extremely important to make sure your loved ones know your wishes and will honor them.
A great way to get the conversation going is to play the Go Wish card game. Learn all about this creative way to have the conversation.
Go Wish Card Game