End of life decisions are hard and though families recognize the importance of pre-planning, it’s often a part of aging many choose to ignore. As difficult as the decisions are, it is important for families to take the initiative to set them in place.
Many times these decisions are pushed to the side for a number of reasons. First and foremost, is the reality of losing a loved one. Secondly, there is simply not enough knowledge to move forward to set directives in place.
Think of end-of-life decisions as part of the daily business process of aging parents. Just as the power bill must be paid, so is the importance of putting advanced directives in place.
What are Advanced Directives?
Advanced Directives include many things but the four most common documents every individual needs are: a Will, Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, and a Living Will. As difficult as it is to discuss these matters, it’s wise to make these decisions early in our lives when emotion does not come into play, rational decisions can be discussed and plans made.
Power of Attorney designates an individual or family member to help assist in daily life situations, banking, bill paying and decisions. Families should assign this task to a person who has sound judgment and is able to attend the personal and financial needs of the loved one should they become unable to do so. Along with Power of Attorney is the need to for this person to have joint ownership of all bank accounts and savings plans. Simply signing a signature card at the bank does not allow full access to funds, i.e. transferring money from savings to checking accounts or cashing out IRA’s etc. for payment of medical needs.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions designates someone else to make health care decisions in the event a loved one cannot make them for themselves. It is important this position be designated to someone who has discussed at length the wants and desires of medical care with the loved one and is willing to abide by and act on those decisions and who is willing to make important health decisions should the desires of the loved one not been made known.
Living Will is a document made in advance of illness that states the wants and desires of end-of-life decisions such as emergency life-sustaining measures, i.e. CPR, respirator, extenuating measures to prevent the natural process of death. It’s not about the quantity of life but the quality that is important. A living will can be catered to the wants and desires of the patient.
Will states the desires of assets and their distribution.
As our parents age make a packet of these forms and store them in an easy-access spot so that emergency responders can locate them and abide by the wishes of your loved one. Being prepared for any situation is important not only for our aging parents but for every family member. Having these documents prepared saves time and makes the transition of care simple.
Bring family members together, discuss the wants and wishes of seniors and then draw up Advanced Directives.