Health care directives can guide family in making decisions

Advances in medical care have added years to the life of the average California resident. Illnesses that would once result in almost certain death can now be treated, and the individual can continue on with a normal life. As a loved one ages, many times, it is up to family members to decide what that individual wants and how to medically best take care of him or her. These decisions can be stressful for the family and often cause dissension. In order to avoid all this, one can establish advanced health care directives indicating the type and extent of medical care desired.

Dementia is a disease that will ultimately affect approximately half of the aging population. Along with it comes the inability to make personal medical decisions. This leaves the family debating on whether or not treatable illnesses should be treated. Society and the medical community typically advocate for treating illness simply because it can be treated. However, is this truly the best option for one whose quality of life has diminished due to advanced dementia?

Prior to losing the ability to make personal medical decisions, each individual has the ability to establish the extent to which he or she wants to be treated medically. For some California residents, the decision is for medical personnel to do everything possible to prolong life. For others, the decision is that nothing should be done to prolong life. Others choose for something somewhere between these two options.

Regardless of the individual’s choice, by stating these choices in the form of advanced health care directives, family members and medical personnel clearly know what the individual wants. This then allows the family to carry out their loved one’s wishes without added guilt. In order to make sure that all areas are covered and that everything is done properly, it is advisable to work with an experience legal professional.

Source: sonomacountygazette.com, “Can We Choose NOT to Treat an Illness?”, Kira Reginato, Nov. 25, 2016

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