Power of lawyer: your most vital “life” doc
Most would assume your most important documents are your social security card, birth certificate, and driver’s license, and maybe just under a quarter these days is your vaccination card. What many don’t think, however, is the pre-policy documents you need to make sure your health requests are known and followed during a medical crisis.
Who would speak for you in terms of your health if you couldn’t speak for yourself? Would the person you choose know what to do, what to do or not to do on your behalf? What instructions would you follow?
It is a common belief that only the sick and the elderly need prior instruction. Few people realize that a carefully crafted, permanent health care authorization is vital for every adult – young or old, healthy or sick, disabled or able to work.
This could be your most important document!
Think of it young or good, or your “If I’m Hit by a Bus” document because the reality is that you may not be pleased with who may be in control of your healthcare decisions when you are not in are able to speak for themselves and not officially announce their wishes.
In my professional role as a social worker who has worked with patients and families for more than 25 years, I have found that there are few things more difficult for families than making decisions for a loved one who never has their treatment preferences has expressed.
Families often quarrel at bedside with permanently damaged relationships when the wishes of their loved ones are unspoken and undocumented.
Tim Rogers, the President and CEO of the Association of Home and Hospice Care in North Carolina, has been committed to ensuring that adults complete their advance directives during his tenure. He recently had an experience of how these documents play out in the real world.
Tim said, “Having been a professional home care and hospice advocate for the elderly for nearly 30 years, I have been taught the importance of having your own needs expressed in your health care. An upfront policy allows for that important expression, including your value, particularly with the aim of never really getting up close and personal with this amazing value up to my elderly father’s recent cancer, hospitalization and hospice care The care he wanted was discharge from hospital to inpatient hospice care and life in comfort and peace. “
People take out fire insurance even though their homes are never allowed to burn down. Likewise, competent adults should fill out an advance protection policy, even though they may never be able to make decisions for themselves. If you are unsure how to live out your last moments in life, you can make these documents as little or as restrictive as you like and they are not set in stone. Check out the infographic for some ideas on how to start the conversation. You can revise your advance directives at any time or if your wishes change.
A great way to think about what you would like when you find yourself in a very physically fragile position is to: think back to a situation others witnessed and then decide if you would like similar care, when you are in this position. In addition to the power of attorney for health care, the “Living Will” is another document that makes it much easier to capture these ideas and is also legally valid in North Carolina. Both can be found on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website. There is also an online registry where you can file your documents so they are available anytime, anywhere if a medical crisis arises. You can find the registration here: here.
If you want to care for a loved one and connect with others in our community who are following the same path, join ABC11’s Caregivers Corner, hosted by Nicole Clagett. The group has more than 1500 people who support each other and share wonderful information and resources on a daily basis. You can find more helpful tips on this topic in the Caregivers Corner section of ABC11.
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