Think about the situations you may face as you age or if you are in a sudden accident. Have a conversation with your family, doctor and a legal representative. End-of-life planning can include a Living Will, Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Form, Power of Attorney, possible organ and tissue donation, and a Declaration for Funeral Arrangements.
By deciding when you are healthy what end-of-life care best suits your needs, you can help those close to you make the right choices if the time comes. This not only respects your values, but also allows those closest to you the comfort of knowing they can be helpful.
Advance Directives do what the name suggests, allow you to direct others as to how to conduct your personal business, health care and end-of-life choices. If you become unable to make your own decisions, advance directives provide reassurance that your affairs will be conducted in the manner you desire. The individuals you name in your advance directives as your attorney-in-fact or agent will have control over your well-being and assets. Therefore, you should carefully select these individuals and talk to them at length.
Types of Advance Directives:
Living Will – A living will tells your family and health care providers what you want in regards to life-sustaining treatment if you are unable to communicate, and two doctors agree that your condition is not going to improve. A Living Will can be modified by you at any time.
Durable Power of Attorney – This document, Health Care Power of Attorney, authorizes the attorney-in-fact named by you to make health care decisions if you are unable to do so. A living will takes precedence over a durable power of attorney if your condition is terminal.
General Power of Attorney – This document authorizes the attorney-in-fact named by you to act on your behalf in business and personal transactions, but it cannot be used to make health care decisions. A person with power of attorney can control all of your finances, so make this choice very thoughtfully.
Limited Power of Attorney – This document authorizes the attorney-in-fact named by you to act on your behalf in specific and limited situations. You select the areas of authority, but this cannot be used to make health care decisions.
Do-Not-Resuscitate Form – The Ohio DNR Law allows you to choose to limit the care you would receive in an emergency. This includes care from emergency personnel when 911 is dialed. A DNR authorizes a treating physician to write an order stating that you do not want to be resuscitated in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. A DNR is separate from a Living Will. You must speak to your doctor about this order.
Organ and Tissue Donation – There are two ways to register your preferences regarding organ and tissue donation. Complete the Donor Registry Form, which is part of your Living Will, or state your preference when you renew your State of Ohio ID or Driver’s License.
Declaration for Funeral Arrangements – This document, the Declaration for Funeral Arrangements, designates a person to decide how to dispose of your body. Your instructions can include that your body be buried, cremated, or donated to science.
Having the Conversation:
Once you have made your decisions, it is important that you talk to your family. You want them to know what you want and why. For some, this can be more difficult than making the actual decisions, but The Conversation Project and The Five Wishes websites can help you form and discuss your choices.
The Stanford Letter Project
The Stanford Letter Project was created to help adults take the first step in talking with their doctors about “what matters most at the end of your life.” Doctors agree that it is important to have an end-of-life conversation with their patients, yet many find it difficult to initiate the conversation.
The Stanford Letter Project will help you write the letter, detailing the information you want your doctor to know, in order to provide end-of-life care that agrees with your values and wishes.
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