FOOD FOR THOUGHT
People will come to me wanting a healthcare durable power of attorney for a number of reasons. A friend of theirs has one. The hospital made mom fill out one when she had her surgery. They read an article in Reader’s Digest.
Whatever the reason it is most important that if you’re going to have this particular durable power of attorney, that you discuss with your agent what your healthcare preferences are so that he or she can take those preferences into account when making healthcare decisions on your behalf. I have discovered that many of my married clients have never thought to have this discussion. Here are some topics you might want to discuss with your agent.
Life Support is a treatment or procedure that is given when the patient’s body can no longer keep itself alive. For example, if your heart cannot function, a machine can replace the heart function and keep your life. Under what circumstances would you want life-support? And for what duration? Is there any circumstance in which you would not want life-support?
Intubation comes into play if a patient cannot maintain an open airway, that a breathing tube can be inserted into the mouth and through the airway. A ventilator machine can be connected to help with breathing. This is a procedure that is done to prolong death, or it can be done as a routine procedure to treat a curable condition (COVID-19?). Under what circumstances would you not want to be intubated?
Artificial nutrition and hydration can be given to keep a patient alive when he or she is no longer able to eat and drink on their own. Under what circumstances would you want or not want artificial nutrition and hydration to be administered? And for what duration?
Surgeries can be major or minor, depending upon the condition for which treatment is sought. Are there any circumstances in which you would not want to have surgery?
Amputation is having a limb fully or partially removed. Sometimes it is necessary to save a patient’s life. But what your wishes differ depending upon which limb was to be removed?
Medication includes both prescription and non-prescription drugs or substance. You have any objections to any certain kinds of the medication and how it is to be administered or for how long? And what you do if the medication has serious adverse side effects?
Blood transfusion is the process of where another person’s blood is transferred into the patient’s body. Do you have any objections regarding a blood transfusion? Some my clients do object for religious reasons.
Care facilities include residential facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, continuum-of-care facilities that cover everything from independent living to nursing home services. What type of care facility do you prefer? What type of facility can you afford? Do they accept Medicaid residents? Do you prefer to stay at home and utilize the services of an in-home healthcare agency?
Communication procedures need to be in place if you can no longer speak or write. Will a “yes” or “no” answer be communicated by the blinking of the eyes or a squeezing of the hand?
I would like to think that we are all something more than just a name, date of birth and Social Security number. These are not fun topics for discussion but the odds are that you’re not going to be able to avoid them in the future. So why not prepare for them?
“You know you’re getting old when all the names in your black book have M.D. after them.”