End-of-Life Care and Dying Well
The topic of dying is a difficult one for most of us. Families often struggle to cope with the idea of losing someone they love. When asked, nearly two-thirds of people say they would prefer to die at home on their own terms. Equally important, however, is they don’t want to be a burden to their families. Planning for end-of-life is the best way to help your family know how to make certain your wishes are honored.
Resources for Advance Care Planning
Taking time to thoughtfully create an advance care plan while you are healthy will allow you to make the most informed choices about your future wishes. There are several documents that make up an advance care plan:
An advance directive or living will allows you to record your wishes for medical care and treatment at the end of life. Before it can be used to make decisions on your behalf, two physicians must certify that you are unable to make those determinations for yourself.
A health care proxy or medical power of attorney is used to document who you want to make choices for you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. Your physician would have to certify that you aren’t able to make your own decisions before the proxy can be utilized. If you recover your decision-making capabilities, the medical power of attorney will be suspended.
The laws surrounding advance care planning are different in every state. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Association maintains a directory of links to the necessary documents for each state. Pennsylvania residents will find Planning for Important Health Care Decisions to be of help. The Maryland Advance Directives tool provides similar information.
Another document you may be interested in is called Five Wishes. It walks you through creating a plan to express your wishes if you aren’t able to speak for yourself. Five Wishes meets the legal requirements of 42 states across the country including both Pennsylvania and Maryland.