The best gift that you can give to your loved ones is to talk about your end-of-life wishes and goals if faced with a chronic, life-limiting illness, and to complete your advance directive, writes Rita Hagen of Hospice Alliance in a column she wrote in ‘The Kenosha News’.
Advance directive is a document in which you can state your goals, values and beliefs about health care treatment decisions, including who should make those decisions, if a person can no longer make those decisions for yourself. When developing your advance care plan consider your concerns, values, spiritual beliefs, or your ideas about what makes life worth living.
You can change/update it at any time and should be looked at periodically throughout your life, perhaps on your birthday, and update as needed, since our values and beliefs at 30 may be different than when we are 60. It is not a one-time conversation, but many conversations over time and be sure to include your physician.
Decide who should make decisions for you if you cannot. Choose someone who will understand and can carry out your wishes, even if they include stopping life-sustaining treatments. You should also name a back-up agent to make decisions, in case the first person is not able to do so. Whomever you choose, make sure you share with them and with others close to you, why this decision was made.
Questions to ask your doctor
Will you be open/honest with my family if I have a serious illness?
Will you let me and my family know when my treatments are no longer effective, so I may make decisions that are consistent with my values?
If I have a serious medical condition will you connect me to experts that will allow me to live my life as well as possible, with the time I have remaining?
Rita Hagen is the executive director Hospice Alliance. This is a summary of her column in 'The Kenosha News'
Check out the column here: http://www.kenoshanews.com/opinion/local_columnists/hagen-the-greatest-gift-is-to-plan-your-wishes/article_5ee0b345-cd83-50d1-89ad-39904542e962.html