Maybe you feel young, healthy and invincible. So why would you need to fill out a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney?
These advance directive documents outline what kinds of medical treatments you would like in the event you become unable to speak for yourself. Having advance directives in place can give you peace of mind, knowing your loved ones will not be burdened by having to make these decisions if something were to happen to you.
Here’s why it matters, regardless of your age: If you get injured or suddenly fall ill and can’t speak for yourself, you need someone to know what treatments you want or don’t want. And that person needs to be authorized to make decisions for you.
To ensure that you receive the care you want, all you need to do is fill out the Advance Directive forms, which are available here.
Nobody is Immune to Illness or Injury
Even if you are young and healthy, a situation could arise where someone else must take control of your healthcare. Most of us think that it’s the elderly who need to prepare for the end of life, but the fact is, there are no guarantees for any of us that we will get another day.
I don’t say that to sound morbid or scary. Life is joyful and abundant, but it can end before we’re ready.
Help Your Family
As the Director of Spiritual Care at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the most common lament I hear from families of patients is, “I wish I knew what Mom wanted …” Or Dad, or Aunt Mary. The point is, the family has to make some decisions about their loved one’s care, and they don’t know what to do. They have no guidance from the patient, and so, the torturous journey of debating and discerning the right thing begins. Most people agonize for days over whether or not to continue with dialysis, or discontinue the ventilator, or put in a feeding tube.
You have the chance to spare your family this kind of anguish. The forms are simple. The conversations might be difficult, but are necessary. If you love your family, give them the gift of executing a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and discuss your choices. If you don’t have family, discuss your choices with your friends.
Someone might have to make decisions for you at some point. Don’t you want that to be someone who knows you? And who knows what you want?
If you are unsure how to make a difficult decision, NHRMC’s Ethics Committee might be able to help you reach a decision you are comfortable with. To reach the committee, call VitaLine at (910) 815-5188.
Marty Aden is the Director of Spiritual Care at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Chaplains at NHRMC respect all traditions, faiths and beliefs and are available 24 hours a day for patients, staff, and families.