We have choices in life... and death
Friday, April 28, 2017
If we are using SparkPeople, we are concerned about our health needs to some degree. However, we may be unaware of some important pieces available to help us make choices that reflect our values in life and death matters. We never know when a stroke, heart attack, allergic reaction or accident may occur, rendering us unable to make our wishes known. Let me share some good news.
Did you know there is a way to create a legal document that states your choice of medical treatments and that you can designate a person to be your advocate for end of life wishes? Yesterday I was priviledged to attend a all day seminar on Advanced Health Care Directives and the POLST form. These are things we all need to know.
The Advanced Health Care Directive is available to anyone 18 or older. It allows one to tell family, medical personnel (EMT's, Dr's) what your wishes are in general terms, and it is the legal document that designates who can make decisions for you regarding your health if you are unable to do so. It allows you be as specific if you wish, regarding end of life choices and organ donation. It is a good conversation starter for families. We just never know when we may be in an acccident, have a stroke, heart attack or some other unfortunate unforseen mecdical problem that leaves us unable to tell healthcare providers and family what we wish to have done or not done.
For those approaching end stage chronic health problems or in treatment for cancer, there is another tool you need to consider. In CA (and many other states and countries) the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) is the legal document where you state your wishes regarding CPR, mechanical ventilation and supplemental nutrition; after discussing it with your doctor, he /she signs it and it becomes a permanent order you can take with you where ever you go (hospital, skilled nursing facilities, your home). It is freeing for family to have this information known and available ahead of time.
Sadly, there are children/teens and their families that need help with these issues as well. There are specific things available for them as well in pediatric and teen versions of a document called "5 Wishes". (The adult version of "5 Wishes" offers more extensive considerations to discuss and mull over as well.)
We are fortunate to live in an era where such resources are available. It certainly can make life easier during hard times. Sure we don't want to think about things like this but it is better to be prepared and not have to live with questions and regrets the rest of our life, wondering if we made the right choices for our loved ones. I've been there. Its hard at the moment and for years to come. These are the types of things that can drive us to over eat and battle weight issues. So why not take a bit of time and check this out? It can make all the difference in the world.