By SAIL Professional Services Member Debby Deutsch, Patient Care Partners, LLC
April 16 is dedicated to prompting thoughts and conversations about advance care planning. What are your thoughts about end of life wishes, and who would help you communicate your wishes if you are no longer able to? It’s vital that the proper legal documents are in place to ensure your wishes will be honored at the end of your life, should you become unable to make your wishes known. A Health Care Power of Attorney document removes uncertainty about your choices and wishes being carried out.
Currently, COVID-19 presents unique challenges with heightened risks and precautions, and broad restrictions on visitors in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and senior communities, making this issue even more pressing. Having your important health information in place is essential in helping your health care agent(s) advocate for you during a healthcare crisis or emergency. If you haven’t already, please give some thought to who would be an appropriate Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) agent for you.
Additionally, in our society, it is becoming increasingly common for seniors to enter the later stages of life devoid of immediate, nearby family members. These seniors may have a strong circle of friends, but no spouse, children or siblings who are currently geographically or emotionally present in their life. Others, for a variety of reasons, do not wish for family members or friends to accept this responsibility on their behalf. Questions arise as to who will be their ‘voice’ if they face circumstances related to dementia, chronic illness, aging or end of life.
A responsible person, familiar with your unique wishes and goals, will be needed to take on the role of Health Care Power of Attorney. The person will act on your behalf, handling issues such as:
-Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: Ensuring strict adherence to the wishes of the individual regarding resuscitation efforts
-Adhering to your individual preferences regarding feeding tubes and care facility placement
-Visitation at end of life: Carrying out special preferences regarding personal cares, including who will be present at end of life
-Ensuring your spiritual support and faith ritual preferences
-Funeral planning: Carrying out the type of service, burial instructions, type of music to be played, and other individual preferences
-Initiation of disposition of assets: Seeing to the immediate organization of personal assets and contacting the Financial Power of Attorney regarding your estate
-Notification of friends and others: Notifying the appropriate people upon death
It is important to note that this person will carry out your wishes only in the event of incapacitation. These means that two physicians have declared that you are no longer decisional, thus enacting your Health Care Power of Attorney agent to speak on your behalf.
Patient Care Partners is a Madison-based private patient advocacy firm, serving patients and families in the Dane County area and beyond since 2017. Our unique team approach provides nursing advocacy, case management advocacy and medical billing advocacy support. Our philosophy is that every person should be supported in a manner that is individualized to their needs and goals. We guide patients and families through the complexities of healthcare and insurance systems. We have seen that this saves money, and improves access to healthcare services, thus improving patient outcomes and satisfaction with their own healthcare.
No matter what their current status, all seniors need to consider how their wishes will be carried out, should they be unable to express them. It is more timely now than ever.
SAIL hopes you are staying safe and healthy now and always! Feel free to call us at 608-230-4321 if you want to chat or address a specific issue. We can answer questions about the above issues and many others. Thank you, Debby, for sharing this important information!