Preparing Advance Directives for End of Life Care

Thinking about end of life care can be intimidating. However, medical experts recommend that adults of all ages and health levels research their medical treatment options in the event of a life-threatening injury or illness, and prepare advance directives documenting their preferred treatment decisions. For those who know they will likely face decisions about end of life care sooner rather than later, advance directives are especially important. They can simplify the medical treatment process so that you can focus on spending time with your loved ones.

What are Advance Directives for End of Life Care?

Advance directives are a broad category of legal documents that clarify important end of life care decisions, such as declaring what treatment protocols you would like your care team to take and determining which of your loved ones can make medical decisions on your behalf. These documents include living wills, durable power of attorney forms, and physician orders for life-sustaining treatment.

Advance directives can provide as much or as little detail as you would like, and they only impact medical decision-making — not decisions about money or other property. They simply provide a blueprint for your medical care in the event that you are unable to express your treatment preferences for yourself. They can be updated at any time, and many experts recommend updating them as necessary, such as when your health circumstances or perspectives about end of life care change.

Why Make End of Life Care Decisions Now?

Making end of life care decisions long before you face them can feel intimidating. However, taking time to consider the possible treatment options you might choose after a life-threatening illness or injury allows you to make decisions with a calmer, more objective perspective. It also reduces possible stress on your loved ones, who may be asked to make decisions on your behalf if no advance directives provide guidance for your medical team. Clearly laying out what treatment options you would like to pursue means that your family and care team will not have to guess your preferences.

If you and your loved ones are facing imminent end of life care decisions, your care team will offer extensive explanations of your care options so that you can make informed choices and record them in advance directives. Medical social workers can guide you and your family through the process of creating and certifying this documentation. A thorough set of advance directives ensures that your future medical decision-making will run smoothly, so you can spend more time focusing on your comfort and health and enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Wings of Hope hospice provides holistic palliative and end of life care for families across Arizona. Their team of caring professionals, including medical social workers trained in helping create advance directives for end of life care, supports patients and their loved ones as they navigate difficult decisions.

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