Senior Health: Controlling Your Healthcare Destiny
April 16th: National Healthcare Decisions Day
Putting aside the heated discussions and implications around healthcare reform...if you want to have some control over the way you are cared for, especially at the end of life, you should consider advanced care planning. Our laws allow us to put our wishes in writing through advance directives, and one of the most important pieces of that puzzle is appointing a healthcare surrogate (sometimes called Healthcare POA or proxy) to make decisions on our behalf if we are unable. Although there's been some progress in the number of people completing advance directives, still only about 1/3 of elders have these documents.
And...even those who have completed the documents often neglect to talk to their family/healthcare surrogate and doctor about what they want. We find time and time again, individuals have gone down a path they would not have intended, or start to ask why they are completing certain tests and procedures. It can be hard to take a step back, especially in the middle of a crisis, and consider desires, goals/expected outcomes and options.
Reflect on these things as we approach National Healthcare Decisions Day and consider putting your wishes in writing if you have not already done so. Talk to your family, especially if you are facing a new diagnosis or chronic illness. Consider talking to a professional care manager (healthcare advocate) as you face decisions...whether for yourself or when acting as your loved one's surrogate. Read about professional patient advocacy services to learn more.
The American Bar Association offers a Proxy Quiz, which is an interesting exercise in what you would want, and what your proxy perceives you would want...great starting point for a discussion...