Page 3 - Senior Times South Central Michigan August 2020 - 27-08
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Senior Times - August 2020 Page 3
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
  Each of us wants to have the power to make our own health care decisions. But what about accepting the responsibility for making those kind of decisions for another? To be trusted to make life and death choices for a loved one, when they are not able to do so, is an obligation not to be taken lightly.
for comfort, mental health, and more. Consider in what circumstances, if any, you wish such procedures withheld or even with- drawn. Be sure to discuss your choices with family.
 I accepted the role as patient advocate with conviction. Along with my brother, our understanding of my father’s medical wishes were put to the test in a five week hurricane of decisions that we often had to fight for, even after producing our legal documents. But even more important than saying, “Yes” to taking on the responsibilities that came my way with the durable power of attorney for health care was having the conviction to carry out the wishes that were set forth in writing. Considering all the conversations we had over the years made the words that made it to paper all the more clear. In the end we made many hard choices because we were trusted to do so. We did the best we could to make all the right ones. And I can say that we were so glad that we had the documents to give us the backbone to carry them out. From the perspective of the person that accepted the role of patient advocate I can say that the time taken to develop the legal documents was worth it. If I could encour- age those of you reading this right now to do one thing it would be to carry through with the thought that sneaks into the back of your mind every time a friend is ill or injured, or you’ve lost a loved one... it’s a gift to put your wishes in writing.
will be your durable power of attorney for health care and finances; identify the role of your patient advocate; complete your estate plan, will, and trust. Just do it. As difficult as it is to confront these issues, doing so will help ensure your wishes are honored in the future. It will help with definitive choices and alleviate mentally burdensome deci- sion-making by loved ones when they are suffering during a difficult time as well. And if roles change in the future, you can and should update your documents.
It’s better to prepare ten years too early than one day too late. It is never too soon to learn about advance care planning. Once you decide to begin it is important to confirm with others that they are will- ing to accept the roles you may be asking of them.
Bring the subject up with your doctor. Have a discussion about the benefits and burdens of various types of treatment. Express at least your general wishes and make sure the doctor is comfortable with carrying them out. Considerations might include the administration of food and water, life support options, invasive procedures, do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, medications
Give the original durable power of attor- ney for health care to your patient advocate (or at least make sure she or he knows where it is). Give a copy to your doctor (they will make the document part of your medical record) and keep a copy yourself. Let others know who you have chosen as your patient advocate. You can even register your durable power of attorney with the statewide registry.
If you are transferring to a health care facility of any kind be sure to bring your advance directive with you so they know who to be interacting with if they are unable to respond themselves. If given an advance directive, the hospital or nursing home must make it part of your medical record. If the facility has no reason to question the docu- ment's authenticity, has evidence you are no longer able to participate in treatment deci- sions, and believes a patient advocate is act- ing consistent with your wishes, the facility has a responsibility to comply.
 If you decide not to have an advance directive, decisions will still need to be
made for you should you become unable to make them. Sometimes, a doctor or hospital will accept a spouse or child as an informal decision-maker. In some situations, a family member has some role by law. At other times a guardianship proceeding will have to be initiated in probate court.
 Take the time to be sincere about advance care planning. Talk with your adult children or other loved ones about what your pref- erences are. And finally, put in writing who
You have the power to eliminate the risk of what might happen by putting your wish- es in writing. Give your family this gift and gain peace of mind.
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