For many people, discussing comprehensive long-term care or advance care is even more emotionally challenging than discussing final wishes. No one wants to imagine a scenario where they aren’t able to care for themselves.
Unfortunately, this means advance care planning often gets forgotten or placed on the back burner.
Advance care can improve the quality of life for both the patient and their loved ones. Here’s how to start navigating such an uncomfortable topic.
Understanding the Different Types of Advance Care Planning
There are a few different types of advance care plans, aka, advance care directives. These apply to different situations that impact a person’s ability to communicate and cover different important aspects of life.
Regulations and documents for advanced directives vary by state but here are some of the most common.
Living Will: Living wills control how doctors administer medical care for anyone with a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. This very broad advance directive can include many factors.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document allows a person to put someone they trust in control of making all their healthcare decisions as a proxy agent.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order: DNR orders dictate whether or not medical professionals administer lifesaving treatment when a person’s heart or breathing stops.
The Five Wishes: Recognized in 42 states, this document launched by the Dying with Dignity covers five main concerns involved in senior aging care or general long-term care with compassion.
What Should Someone Include in Their Advance Care Planning?
While it’s emotionally and mentally straining to plan for every possible situation, advance care plans should be as thorough and comprehensive as possible.
Remember that the goal is to take pressure off loved ones making decisions and improve quality of life for the patient.
A person’s living will or Five Wishes advance care plan might include:
- The specific types of medical treatment a person wants or doesn’t want
- Planning for medical treatment during pregnancy
- Organ and tissue donation protocols
- Personal grooming and bathing instructions
- Home health procedures and limitations
- Senior home health long-term care
- Prayer or spiritual activities
- Pain management medications and procedures
- A person’s specific definition of life support and their personal wishes
Will Senior Aging Home Healthcare or Long-term Care Be Necessary?
A person can lose their ability to communicate during short periods of unconsciousness or due to chronic conditions like dementia or multiple sclerosis.
When many people think of advance care directives, they might imagine one-time events (such as car accidents) that leave a person in a vegetative state requiring loved ones to make a very tense snap decision.
Anyone who has witnessed a loved one suffer through Alzheimer’s, cancer, or other terminal or degenerative conditions can attest to the emotional turmoil that comes with making home healthcare or long-term care decisions.
Advance directives can help ease the stress for loved ones during an already emotional and tumultuous time.
Advance Care Planning: 5 Tips to Give You a Piece of Mind
Deciding how to plan an advance care directive isn’t easy. That’s likely why 70 percent of Americans don’t have an advance care plan. Here are some tips to make the process just a little smoother.
- Check state regulations before thinking too much about a concrete plan.
- Start casual conversations with loved ones about advance care wishes to help normalize the discussion.
- Encourage loved ones to discuss their own advance care wishes.
- Emotions can run high – think about how to balance a living will with power of attorney for healthcare.
- Consider the right time for hospice care. Most families wish they had started hospice sooner rather than later.
- Talk to a professional advance care planner or third-party expert about your options.
Now is the Time to Plan Senior Home Health or Advance Care
Planning long-term care isn’t just about the patient – it’s largely about family too.
Some people lose their ability to care for themselves over a long period of time as part of senior aging. Others may suddenly suffer a stroke or tragic event that leaves them unable to communicate.
Advance care planning can take a lot of pressure off family members and reduce tension surrounding the entire process. Things can happen at any age and it’s important to always be prepared – no matter how uncomfortable the conversation might be.
Intrepid USA is here to help. Learn more about their comprehensive home healthcare, personalized private duty care, and compassionate hospice services. Schedule a consultation to discuss how Intrepid USA can help improve quality of life for patients and their families.