Health care directives can ease end-of-life transition

At the end of life, many people do not wish to have certain life-saving interventions, choosing instead for methods that ease the transition to death. Some feel that heroic measures are unnecessary and that instead they would just like to be kept comfortable until passing. In California, health care directives are legal documents that set out a person’s wishes for end-of-life that can be referred to in case of emergency or if the person is no longer able to communicate their wishes. 

One statistic claims that only 25 percent of people have advance directives in place. An advance care planner can work with an individual to determine what options exist for end-of-life care, choose which option best fits their preferences and needs, and share those preferences with medical staff and family. The planning process can be as simple as a single conversation, or it may be a multi-step process. 

End-of-life planning documents can include a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and the health care directive. The directive will lay out the guidelines for physicians on how to carry out medical decisions in the time of a health crisis, according to the person’s wishes. It is estimated that more than half of individuals are able to communicate their needs when the time for transition comes. 

By taking a few thoughtful moments now, a person can have greater agency over their end-of-life circumstances. These documents also take the strain of important health decisions away from family. In California, individuals who choose to work with a professional when creating health care directives often employ an estate planning attorney. 

Source: physiciansnews.com, “Advance Directives: Improving Patient Care at End-of-Life,” Rhea Go-Coloma, Oct. 24, 2017

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