Nothing quite like planning your medical wishes in the event of incapacitation or death to make the room uncomfortable. But as challenging as it is to discuss your health care decisions with your loved ones, it is vital to prepare ahead to save them from difficult and distressing situations.
Weighing your end-of-life care options
Advance directives are your written instructions outlining your health care decisions before you are unable to make any decision for yourself. You may choose among the following types of advance directives in the state of New York:
- Health care proxy form
- Living will
- Do not resuscitate (DNR) order
- Medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST)
If you’re open to trusting someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you end up in a vegetative state or a coma, you must fill out a health care proxy form to appoint a health care agent. Your appointed agent will represent you when you’ve lost the capacity to decide independently. If you fail to choose an agent, a surrogate will step in under the Family Health Care Decisions Act. In sequential priority, your surrogate could be your spouse, child over 18, parents, siblings over 18 or a close friend.
It’s possible for you to consider having a living will instead. Unlike the conventional will tackling property matters, a living will provides clear and convincing instructions for your medical wishes. Sometimes, you may combine your health care proxy and living will, so your trusted agent may follow your detailed instructions.
Additionally, a DNR order applies when your heart suddenly stops beating or you stop breathing. This is a medical order you coordinate with your physician instructing emergency staff not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other life-prolonging treatments. In the same vein, you may use a MOLST to record your choices about CPR, mechanical respiration or any life-sustaining procedures.
Holistic health approach
Ultimately, end-of-life care planning gives you an encompassing view of your wishes when you can no longer communicate them. Preparing in advance with a legal advocate protects your values and beliefs and saves your family from unnecessary legal troubles.