The Importance of Advance Care Planning
Declining health and end of life decisions are topics that most of us would probably rather not think about. As difficult as it can be, though, planning in advance is the best way to ensure that your wishes are met no matter what. Advance planning also provides your loved ones with the assurance that they are following your wishes as you’ve expressed them.
Why is Advance Care Planning so Important?
Sometimes, you have the luxury of having the time to make decisions about your health. However, a sudden accident or severe illness could limit or eliminate your ability to express your wishes to your healthcare team. Advance care planning allows you to decide in advance what care you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Rather than leave your treatment options up to others, you are able to leave instructions that take your values and preferences into account and eliminate the uncertainty for your doctors and family members.
Advance care planning can give you peace of mind, but it is also a protection for the loved ones who could find themselves making important decisions on your behalf. Research shows that families who have documented plans outlining their loved ones wishes experience less stress, anxiety, and depression than those with no direction.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that goes into effect if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Types of advance directives that you may want to consider include:
- A living will. This allows you to specify how you feel about emergency treatments that could be offered if you are dying or permanently unconscious. In a living will, you are able to specify how you feel about CPR, artificial nutrition or hydration, use of ventilators, and comfort care.
- Durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows you to name a healthcare proxy – a person who knows your wishes and will make treatment decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
- DNR (do not resucitate) or DNI (do not intubate) orders.
Laws governing advance directives vary from state to state, so it’s important to be familiar with your state’s requirements. If you need help with this, check with your local Area Agency on Aging.
When Memory Issues Are a Factor
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, making plans for the future as early as possible is important. In addition to the decisions usually associated with advance care planning, you’ll also want to consider who you trust to handle financial matters if you are no longer able to do so yourself.
As your circumstances change, your preferences regarding your health care decisions may change as well. So it’s a good idea to review any legal documents from time to time (especially if you experience any major life changes) and keep your family, doctor, and health care proxy informed of any adjustments.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910.686.7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC with a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!