Monday, July 19, 2010

The Gift

The movie Pay it Forward has many wonderful messages about embracing life and giving to those you love—and even those you do not know. When individuals complete an advance directive or living will, you are in fact giving a gift to those you love. You are providing direction on how you want healthcare decisions to be made even when you cannot articulate those decisions.

In general, families can rarely weigh potential outcomes and make decisions from the same perspective as in the time of crisis and stress. We all judge differently what quality of life means. The time to discuss wishes for healthcare is when it can be discussed from a broader view. You can provide a wonderful gift to your family members should they face having to make difficult health decisions for you. You pay it forward when you have an advance directive, durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions, and living wills in place.

Though many of us do not want to think about being unconscious and unable to make decisions, these documents can be critical when facing that crisis. We never know when that may be.

The time to discuss these concerns is long before the crisis that calls families together outside of emergency departments or ICUs, a time when emotions are high and logical decisions seem to be difficult to determine. It truly is easier when you are planning toward a future event, not when that event is thrust upon you.

When you complete these legal documents, the hospital can retain a copy of your wishes in your medical record so it is available in an emergency – another way to remove some stresses in a crisis.

GRMC will host a program called, “Put Your Wishes in Writing,” that will address advance directives, living wills, and durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions. It will be Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. in the Tomasek Conference Center. Call 641-236-2418 to reserve a seat. Even though the program is free, it is very valuable to those you love.

We hope you will never need to use these documents but should the crisis arise, you are better prepared. I have my advanced directives and I urge each of you to consider getting your wishes in writing. It is easy to do and will help if the time ever comes when you are not in a position to speak for yourself.

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