National Healthcare Decisions Day was on April 16th, and it is an important reminder for every adult (remember, you are an adult at age 18) to begin having conversations with loved ones about their most private wishes for medical care and end-of-life decisions.
Far too many people assume that their families would make the choices they would want in an emergency. However, sadly, every day we hear stories of adult children, siblings, or other relatives battling during a healthcare crisis over “what their loved one would have wanted” in that situation.
Incapacity can happen at any age
The coronavirus pandemic has been a reminder to all of us that illness, and even incapacity, can happen at any age. Over the past year, many adults, for the first time ever, expressed their thoughts about being placed on a ventilator and/or receiving experimental medication should they become seriously ill with COVID-19. We have heard many different conversations both from the media and from family and friends and the viewpoints differ widely.
Planning must go beyond an initial discussion. You must also clearly and legally document your preferences, as well as choose an “Agent” whom you trust to make such decisions according to your wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Documenting your wishes can take pressure off of loved ones
Remember, emotions can, and do, run high during a healthcare crisis, and it might be hard for your loved ones to make the decision to stop life support, for example, when they desperately want you around. Having your wishes spelled out in writing helps provide guidance during a stressful time and makes these types of decisions easier for your loved ones, especially in cases when other family members do not agree.