What You Need to Know about Advance Directives and Living Wills
Imagine you are in the intensive care unit of a hospital, suddenly stricken by a life-limiting illness that has left you unable to communicate. Despite the best medical care, your doctor expresses that it is unlikely you will leave the hospital alive. They can, however, prolong your breathing and heart function temporarily by using artificial life support.
Is this the kind of treatment you would want for yourself? Do you want to leave these healthcare decisions up to your loved ones or healthcare providers with no guidance from you?
Scenarios like the one mentioned above occur all too often. While most of us strive to be in control of every aspect of our lives, many people haven’t prepared to be in control of what happens to them near the end of life. A recent study showed 60 percent of individuals aged 18 and older wanted their end-of-life wishes to be respected, however only about a third of them had made their wishes known by completing advance directives. An advance directive offers guidance for future healthcare decisions in the event you cannot make them for yourself.
Charting a roadmap for your healthcare by completing an advance directive puts you in charge of the care you want to receive and how your healthcare dollars are spent. What’s more, it alleviates painful decisions and confusion for your loved ones. An advance directive is a statement of patient preferences that explains to everyone else: This is what I do (and do not) want to keep me going – and even more importantly, who will speak for me when I can’t.
According to the Congressional Research Service, more Americans are dying in the hospital (58%) or nursing homes (20%) than at home (22%). However, a recent Gallop poll revealed that 88 percent of adults would prefer to die in their homes surrounded by loved ones.
We have pulled together official living will and advance directive forms and information for every state in the U.S.
Have you communicated to your family about where you want to spend your final days?
It is also estimated that more than 25 percent of all healthcare dollars spent in a patient’s lifetime are spent during the final months. Nearly 30 percent of all Medicare dollars are paid during the last year of life with more than 50 percent of that amount going to acute care hospitals. This money is often spent to keep a patient alive far past the hope of recovery.
Have you made a plan for how you want your healthcare dollars spent?
While talking about end-of-life healthcare decisions can be a difficult, it is ultimately a conversation about life and letting your loved ones know how to you wish to live your remaining days. By creating a road map for your care and putting your plan in writing, you can help your loved ones accurately remember your plan and provide clear communication to healthcare providers.
To learn more about advance care planning, visit the site below or print the helpful wallet card to advise others of your healthcare decisions.
It’s not easy to talk about how you want the end of your life to be. But it’s one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones.
The Conversation Project website has a Starter Kit that will help you get your thoughts together and then have the conversation. This Starter Kit will help you start the conversation with your loved ones about what you or they want for end-of-life care. Compassus hopes this kit will empower you to be in charge of the care you want to receive.