Senior Living Care Blog

Understanding Advance Directives

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Mar 20, 2019 11:00:00 AM

As your loved one ages, it is important for you to understand their wishes and prepare accordingly for them with the preparation of advance directives. Advance directives are legal documents that allow someone to explain what type of decisions someone wants carried out when it comes to end-of-life care. In an advance directive, a loved one will spell out their wishes to their family, friends, and health care professionals to help avoid confusion about treatment options later on.


Planning for healthcare in the future is an important step toward making sure that your loved one gets the care that they want. If it gets to the point that they are unable to speak for themselves before getting a chance to create an advance directive, doctors and family members will be making the decisions for them they many not necessarily want.


There are a number of decisions that need to be made in an advance directive such as what to do in the case of ventilation machine to aid with breathing or the use of a feeding tube if a patient can’t eat or drink.



What is Advanced Care Planning?

Advanced care planning is all about learning the types of decisions that need to be made ahead of time and letting others know about those preferences. Those preferences will need to be put into an advance directive, which is a legal document that will go into effect only if the person is incapacitated and unable to speak for themselves. It helps others know what type of medical care they wish to receive.


Types of Decisions

There are a number of decisions that will need to be made when it comes to end-of-life care. One common decision that needs to be made is if CPR is to be performed. CPR will help to restore your heartbeat if the heart stops through the use of putting air into the lungs or using a defibrillator. Similarly, the use of a ventilator machine to help someone breathe will have to be decided upon as well. People using such a breathing tube are not able to speak without special help because exhaled air does not go past the vocal cords. If someone is not able to eat or drink, they may also require the use of a feeding tube. Artificial nutrition and hydration can be helpful if you are recovering from an illness but have not shown to be effective in meaningfully prolonging life.



Types of Advance Directives

Two individuals working out the details of an advance directive for their parents.

There are two main types of advance directives: durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. Choosing which documents you want to create, depending on what decisions you want to be made.


Healthcare Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document which names a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions for you at times while someone is unable to do so. This means that he or she will be able to decide as you when treatment decisions are to be made. A proxy can be chosen in addition to or instead of a living will.


Living Will

A living will is a written document that will tell doctors how someone wants to be treated if they are dying or permanently unconscious and cannot make their own decisions about treatment. In a living will, you can say which procedures you would want done and which ones you would not.


Other Advance Care Documents

It may also be important to prepare documents to express wishes about a single medical issue or something not covered in the other advance directive.


Medical issues that might arise at the end of life include:

  • Do not resuscitate order — a DNR order tell medical staff that you do not want them to return the heart to a normal rhythm if it stops beating.
  • Organ and tissue donation — This type of donation allows organs to be transplanted to people in need. At the time of death, family members will be asked about organ donation. Coming up with this decision before beforehand can save your family members from making the decision for you.
  • Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment — POLST forms provide guidance for your medical in the form of a doctor’s orders.



After Setting Up Advance Directive

Once finished with a advance directive, the first thing to do is give copies of it to a healthcare proxy and alternate proxy. Similarly, be sure to give a copy to your doctor for medical records. It may also be important for your loved one to talk about their wishes. Understanding what your loved one wants and why they want it can be helpful with accepting their wishes when they are incapable of making them known verbally.


After your loved one has made their advance directive documents available and known, you should prepare for what happens.



In Conclusion

It is important for your loved one to put together an advance care plan so that the types of decisions related to end-of-life care can be made easily. These plans will need to be put into an advance directive, a legal document such as a living will, that will go into effect if or when a person is unable to talk or is incapacitated. Other advance care documents include do not resuscitate order, instructions on organ and tissue donations, and physician orders for life-sustaining treatment. After a loved one sets up an advance directive, try to talk with them about their decisions to make them easier to accept when the time comes.


Landmark Senior Living has many state-of-the-art facilities that can help your loved one as they enter into the later chapters of their life. Our care staff can provide your loved one and our other residents with the medical care that they need and deserve. Likewise, our staff gives our residents access to a number of social events to keep them happy and entertained during their time at Landmark. If you would like more information about out facilities, please visit our website today and schedule a complimentary walkthrough today.



Learn More Here!



Topics: financial planning

Can I help you with