Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preparing End of Life Documents

Death is not something that families like to speak about, but elderly individuals who are facing end-of-life circumstances may want to prepare end-of-life documents to make their own wishes clear. Certainly a difficult task, the preparation of end-of-life documents is recommended for all individuals in an effort to ensure that all of their wishes are carried out.

James, from Durham, North Carolina, recently helped his elderly loved ones prepare their end-of-life documents. While providing senior care to his parents, he read an article about the importance of these forms. He immediately discussed them with his parents and made an appointment with their lawyer to draw up the necessary papers.

James and his parents focused on three end-of-life documents:

  1. Living Will: A Living Will enables an individual to inform their doctors of their medical wishes even if in a vegetative state. If an individual is terminal and on life support or in an irreversible coma, a Living Will sets forth their wishes. Not only does this ensure that their needs are met, it removes the stress of making such decisions from the shoulders of family members.
  2. Durable or Medical Power of Attorney: In other medical situations, individuals may need family members to make decisions pertaining to treatment options. Power of Attorney should be granted to a trusted individual who understands one's wishes.
  3. Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or POLST: This form is one that an individual's physician will sign. By signing, physicians confirm the Living Will and Power of Attorney decisions. POLST also provides directions for specific medical treatment, such as the use of life support.

After helping his parents prepare their end-of-life documents, James felt much more confident in his ability to take care of them should their health decline. Senior care is about more than simply assisting in daily functions—it is about recognizing and upholding, to the best of one's ability, the wishes of individuals. After discussing these documents with his parents, James knew that he could take care of them in the way that they wanted. Although it was a difficult conversation to have, James and his parents feel more optimistic about the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment