A Health Care Directive (also known as Advance Directive or Living Will) is a very important document not only for your parents or other senior family members to discuss and sign, but for all adults. It’s essential that the person who holds the power of attorney (POA) and/or family (or court appointed guardian if there is no immediate family) knows what sort of care the senior wishes when he or she is very ill and/or dying, and can no longer direct healthcare decisions.
None of us know if/when something catastrophic will happen and our POA and/or family will need to make healthcare decisions on our behalf. While ensuring that the seniors you may be caring for have a Health Care Directive, take this opportunity to prepare your own as well.
Keep in mind, however, that having a Health Care Directive is not enough. Because language in the document may be vague, help your parent or other senior discuss his/her specific wishes with all close family members. If you are preparing your own health directive, make sure your family members know what your wishes are as well.
Store the original in a safe place (e.g., safety deposit box). Make copies of the original for the following:
- Have copy available in the place of residence
- POA and/or other family member
- Primary care physician’s (PCP) office
- Other doctor’s offices as necessary
- Hospital where you, or the senior you may be caring for, would generally go in an emergency or for elective care.
An Elder Law Attorney or other Attorney can help you and your parent draw up and execute these documents if you desire. Keep in mind that these forms are often “State-specific.” It’s a good idea to check about this in your State. You may also download forms from the Internet [e.g., www.legalzoom.com; www.legacywriter.com; www.Fivewishes.com], obtain them from insurance carriers, doctors’ offices or your local hospital.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin