Your health is your greatest wealth. How prepared are you?
We’ve all heard the saying, "Life is a journey." But take a moment to think about the journeys
of your own life. They may have included cross-country vacations with your family or trips to
Europe with friends. Many of your best journeys have probably included a plan. To make the
most of your time, you talked with others about your destination, you researched the location,
made reservations and created itineraries. You took all of these extra steps to help ensure the
journey was smooth and enjoyable.
While vacations are one type of journey, others require
us to plan for life’s “what ifs.” Careful advanced health
care planning can help ensure you’re prepared for any
unforeseen journey ahead. Planning for what would
happen if you have a medical issue and are unable to
speak for yourself is a journey we often don’t talk about.
That’s why it’s important to have an advanced health
care plan. It allows your family, friends and health care
team to know the types of medical treatment you want
or do not want if you are incapacitated.
The non-profit organization Aging with Dignity
created "Five Wishes," a living will that allows you
to communicate your personal, emotional and spiritual
needs and your medical wishes if you are unable to
speak for yourself. It gives you a way to plan for
something very important — how you want to be
treated if you become seriously ill.
Another important directive of Five Wishes is the
selection of a health care agent. Most people wish to give
health care agents the broadest authority possible to
make decisions when it is no longer possible to make
those decisions for themselves. Some of these situations
might include the use of life-sustaining treatments such
as artificial nutrition and hydration. Questions to
consider when selecting a health care agent might be:
- Would this person be willing to speak on your behalf?
- Would he/she be able to act on your wishes separate
from his/her feelings that may differ from yours?
- Do they live close by or could travel to be at your
side if needed?
- Is this person someone you trust with your life?
Many people prefer to keep their legal documents private.
However, when a person is unable to make important
health care decisions, previously communicated wishes
are critical. Planning and talking with your physicians
and family now is essential to your wishes being carried
out later. The more these individuals know, the easier it
will be for them to act on your plan. While these
conversations can be difficult, those you care about will
be relieved of tremendous emotional burdens because
your desires will be documented. Once the Five Wishes
form is signed, it meets the legal requirements for
advanced health care directives in most states. However,
as your life changes, your wishes and needs may change.
It is important to re-examine your plans at critical points
in your life:
- At the beginning of each new decade
- If you experience the death of a loved one
- If you divorce or experience a major family change
- If you are diagnosed with a serious health condition
- If you experience a significant deterioration of an
existing health condition, especially if it diminishes
your ability to live independently
Regardless of your generation, if you are over the age of
18, it is important to have conversations about what you
value most in life and how you would want to be treated
in specific health or medical situations. Putting your
decisions in writing now will give your loved ones the gift
of peace of mind.
The information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. It is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources but
it is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon for legal advice.
Ivy Distributors, Inc., and its representatives do not provide legal advice. Please consult an attorney as to any legal statements made herein.
Ivy Distributors, Inc., is not related to or affiliated with Aging with Dignity.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law and reliance upon outside sources, Ivy Distributors, Inc., makes no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy
or reliability of information contained herein.