I came across a blog the other day that made a very important point. If you are in the process of divorcing and have a medical emergency, who will make decisions on your behalf?
When Lamar Odom was recently found unconscious in a Nevada brothel and was rushed to the hospital, who did the officials call? They called Khloe Kardashian. Although they are in the process of finalizing their divorce, in the eyes of the law, they are still married and unless an advance directive for healthcare states otherwise, is the person who can make medical decisions on his behalf.
Unless you just don’t care, when you are getting a divorce, it’s critical that you update your advance directive to name someone other than your soon to be spouse to decide what the doctors should and shouldn’t do if you have an accident or a sudden health emergency.
To find out more about advance care directives and planning for the end of your life, go to www.diesmart.com.
Effective January 1, 2016, Medicare plans to pay doctors to speak to patients about their end-of-life care. The doctors will provide counseling and discuss options that range from care that’s more focused on comfort than extending life to doing whatever is possible to resuscitate a dying patient. Some doctors are already having conversations about this topic with their patients but are not billing for it.
Medicare payment will ensure that more doctors will have these conversations which many feel are critical to high-quality care.
The Institute of Medicine issued a report last year which found that few people make their wishes known so many deaths “are filled with breathing machines, feeding tubes, powerful drugs and other treatments that fail to extend life and make its final chapter more painful and unpleasant.” The report, “Dying in America” is free as a PDF or can be paid for and ordered as a bound volume.
While most people have given thought to how they would like to die, many have found it difficult to communicate those views and choices to family and loved ones and, in many cases, family and loved ones have their own perceptions and views about death that can influence discussions about dying. Most people envision their own death as a peaceful and an ideally rapid transition. However, with the exception of accidents or trauma or of a few illnesses that almost invariably result in death weeks or months after diagnosis, death usually comes at the end of a chronic illness or the frailty accompanying old age. Even though death is very much part of the cycle of life, thinking and talking about one’s own death usually remains in the background, at least until its prospect become more probable or imminent.
Thru the new Medicare offering doctors will be able to discuss with their patients how they would like to die, and to encourage them to put their wishes on paper and share those wishes with their family.
National, state and local organizations have joined together to ensure that all adults have the opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. Too often, someone’s wishes are not known and steps are taken during a critical medical situation that he or she would not have wanted.
Have you done any advance healthcare planning? Do you even know what your choices are? Have you prepared an advance healthcare directive and shared its contents with your loved ones?
The objectives of the National Healthcare Decisions Day are to provide information to the public and improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.
Don’t force your family to make end of life decisions for you. Tell them what you want and confirm your choices in writing with a living will or other advance directive document. Make April 16th the day you have a discussion with your family, convey your wishes and sign the necessary paperwork.