As people age, their life expectancy naturally decreases and with it comes the gradual decline in their physical, mental and emotional health. Making healthcare decisions towards the end of their life poses a challenge for seniors and their loved ones. Advance directives and other decision-making tools are available that can help elderly persons plan for the future and make decisions in a more comfortable and certain way. This article outlines the best practices for making healthcare decisions for elderly persons.
1. “Understanding Advance Directives: A Guide for Senior Healthcare Decision-Making”
A Closer Look into Advance Directives
Advance directives are documents that enable individuals to pre-emptively plan decisions over their medical care if they were to become medically incapacitated. In this guide, we’ll cover the different types of advance directives aimed at helping seniors make decisions on their healthcare.
Beyond the two main categories of advance directives, it’s important to know that these documents will vary depending on state and local laws. It’s also important to understand that these documents are not one-size-fits-all and should be tailored to the consenter’s needs, wishes, and desired outcomes from medical care:
- Living Will (or Directive to Physicians)
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Do Not Resuscitate Order
- Organ Donation
The Living Will, or Directive to Physicians, allows individuals to appoint an agent to make decisions toward their healthcare in the event of their impaired health condition. Healthcare Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is a legal document that permits an appointed person, known as an agent, to legally manage a wide range of medical decisions on the individual’s behalf. This agent may carry the healthcare power of attorney document to recite the granter’s medical wishes if the individual is unable to express his/her wishes. Meanwhile, a Do Not Resuscitate Order is a legal medical order in which medical personnel are prohibited to facilitate cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event that a patient’s pulse or breathing ceases. Lastly, an organ donation allows individuals to provide consent for donor organ transplants upon death.
2. “An Overview of Advance Directives: Benefits and Limitations”
An Overview of Advance Directives: Benefits and Limitations
Advance directives are an important tool in end-of-life planning. They give individuals a way to express their preferences for medical decision-making and to appoint another individual to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. But like most things, there are both pros and cons to this approach.
- Advance directives give individuals control over their medical care and healthcare decisions.
- In the event of an incapacitating illness or accident, your wishes will still be respected.
- It reduces stress on family members who would otherwise have to make difficult decisions without any knowledge of your wishes.
- Advance directives do not cover all types of medical treatment or end-of-life scenarios.
- The document may not be legally recognized in some states or countries.
- The language of the document should be carefully understood and clear to ensure your wishes are followed.
Overall, advance directives are an important tool for end-of-life planning, however, it is important to understand the benefits and limitations so that you can make an informed decision for yourself and your loved ones.
3. “Healthcare Proxy: Gaining Control Over Medical Decisions”
We all want our loved ones to stay safe and healthy, but when it comes to medical decisions, it’s not always easy to make sure they make the right ones. It’s even harder when distance or other circumstances keep us from being right there. That’s why it’s important to get a healthcare proxy. A healthcare proxy allows you to designate a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if the need arises.
The great thing about a healthcare proxy is that you are in control. You can decide who you want to assign to make medical decisions for you, when to make them and what treatments you’re comfortable with. It also gives you peace of mind, knowing that even when you’re not around, healthcare decisions will be handled according to your wishes.
A healthcare proxy ensures that your doctor will not move forward with any procedure or decision that is not in alignment with your medical wishes. They can work closely with your physicians to gain a better understanding of your condition, your treatment options and your values. Additionally, they can handle communication with health care providers and act as an advocate on your behalf.
Some of the key things that a healthcare proxy should do are:
- Have an open dialogue with your healthcare provider
- Ask the right questions and understand potential risks and benefits
- Research available treatments and get second opinions
- Educate yourself on your health care options
- Make important decisions about your care
By assigning a healthcare proxy, you are ensuring that your medical decisions are made in line with your values. So, if you ever have to make choices regarding medical care or treatments, you can rest assured that you have someone who will make the best decisions for you and your loved ones.
4. “Financial Power of Attorney: Ensuring Your Assets Are Protected”
Ensuring Your Assets Are Protected With Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney (POA) is an important legal document that allows you to appoint an individual or organization to manage your assets if you’re not able to do so. This document also becomes activated if you are unable to make decisions due to mental incapacitation.
The appointed representative will have full authority to make decisions about money, investments, and assets. Some of the powers that a POA grants include:
- Accessing bank accounts and managing financial transactions
- Creating, modifying, or revoking a will
- Applying for government benefits and pensions
- Handling real estate purchases and sales
Ensuring that your assets are managed correctly is extremely important and this is why having a financial power of attorney is so essential. By having this document in place, you can appoint an individual to manage your financials even if you are no longer able to do so.
5. “Risks of Self-Directing Your Healthcare Decisions
Making your own healthcare decisions can be risky in many different ways, which is why seeking advice from a medical professional is often recommended. Here are 5 risks to look out for when self-directing your healthcare decisions.
- Costs: Without a doctor’s advice to lean on, costly treatments and medications may be pursued without knowledge that more affordable or effective options are available.
- Complications: S elf-diagnosing can lead to serious complications, particularly if incorrect or incomplete information is used to make the decision.
- Time: Having to identify, assess and analyze all of the relevant data needed to make an informed healthcare decision can be time-consuming and stressful.
- Resources: Finding reliable sources for obtain the data can be difficult. Information found online may not be medically accurate or up to date.
- Hindsight: Once a decision has been made and acted upon, it can be difficult to recognize and propose alternative solutions at a later date if side-effects, poor performance, or other difficulties are experienced.
Taking on the responsibility of self-directing your healthcare decisions can be a risky move. Be sure to do your research, take your time and double-check any advice you receive before taking action. After all, it’s your health so you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Making informed decisions regarding your healthcare can be a difficult process, and having a plan in place can help elder adults stay on top of their healthcare needs. To help you make the best decisions for yourself, consider researching advance directives and other tools that can help you and your loved ones make healthcare decisions together. With access to these resources and planning ahead, elder adults can have the knowledge and power to make the best decisions about their health.