If you were in an accident today or became suddenly sick and couldn’t speak for yourself, would your family know your healthcare wishes? Would they know for certain what you would want the hospital and doctors to do? And would they be able to make decisions for you—or even talk to your healthcare providers on your behalf?
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal discussed how and why doctors die differently than most of their patients. Although the article is generally interesting, there was one statistic that caught our attention: a survey of doctors showed that 64% of them had planned for potential incapacity by executing an advanced directive. This figure is remarkable because, in general, only 20% of Americans have advanced directives.
Two of the statements I hear most frequently from seniors are “I don’t want to go into a nursing home” and “I don’t want to be put on machines”. However, without proper legal documents in place, your medical decisions may end up out of your hands. This delicate subject seems to be difficult for many families to even bring up. Although we know there is a need to prepare, we tend not to want to think about someone in the family becoming terminally ill or tragically injured. Sometimes a diagnosis comes that leaves a family time to prepare, but many times there is an unexpected crisis which can leave a family reeling to making decisions. Many people lack understanding or misunderstand advanced health care directives. We are happy to explain the designation of healthcare surrogate, living will, power of attorney or even how guardianship works.