By Roz Jones
Being ill is no fun. Neither is being unable to participate in making personal medical decisions. If you are unconscious or unable to articulate your consent for treatment, a medical provider or next of kin may have to make them for you. Preserving life is always the plan, but sometimes, believe it or not, you may not want that to be the plan. It is often easy to become overwhelmed and emotional when taking care of a loved one. Don’t let that stop you from preparing for the next steps. As a caregiver it’s important that we plan ahead for all circumstances.
Here are a few scenarios where life-saving measures might not be your first choice:
Scenario #1. A terminally ill patient with a disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s may not want to be fed through a tube or given antibiotics after a certain stage of their disease.
Scenario #2. A brain-damaged individual who will have to live indefinitely outside of their home in a facility may not want to be on a breathing tube or dialysis or other artificial life-saving machines.
Scenario #3. Someone with a pacemaker or other device may want it removed if their condition worsens to a certain point.
Under certain circumstances, life-saving measures make perfect sense. When recovery is likely and quality of life is high, it is worth the effort and time it takes to recover or endure life-saving measures. However, there may be times or circumstances where a caregiver needs to draw a line in the medical sand.
There are two legal documents that will make it clear to providers and your family that you do not want measures taken and if you do, what they are and when they stop.
An Advance Directive
A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
An Advance Directive: An Advance Directive is a tool used to make end-of-life decisions ahead of time, alleviating medical staff and your family from having to make them. Your Advance Directive is a legal document that you can add to your will or trust so it is easily accessible if it needs to be enforced.
A DNR: A document that denies life-saving measures if your heart stops beating or you are unable to breath on your own.
These documents will help caregivers prevent life-saving measures that might prolong suffering or low-quality living. Consult your primary care physician to learn more and make the decisions that are right for you.
To get more information on end of life planning, be sure to purchase your copy of my upcoming book, Lifted. Enjoy!