Stethoscope and EKG print out.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

by Kathryn Larlee, J.D., Hotline Attorney

“There are only two things in life that are certain; death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin 1789.

Stethoscope and EKGBy a strange coincidence, National Healthcare Decisions Day fell on April 16th, right before tax day, today, April 18th. National Healthcare Decisions Day is a day dedicated to “having the conversation.” This conversation can be more difficult to initiate than getting started on those darn taxes. However, it is an important conversation to have; talk to your loved ones about end of life health care decisions.

There is never a good time to begin this conversation. You could try sitting under a tree with a loved one and commenting casually that you want to become a tree after you die. It’s pretty certain that your loved one will want to know what you are talking about. From there, you can explain about burial and funeral options and which ones you prefer. Then, once you have their attention, hand your loved one your advance directive, a document that outlines your wishes for health care in the event you are in the advanced stages of a serious illness or in a condition that requires some tough decisions about what measures should or should not be taken to prolong life.

Many of the life saving measures that are available to modern medicine are highly invasive and painful, even with pain medications. These methods can prolong life, but for some people, it is preferable to not prolong life if there is no hope of recovery. For some, the option of short term procedures if there is a chance of getting better. And, for others, the preference is to do everything possible for as long as possible. What is important is to recognize that you have the choice, and, although breaking the ice on the topic can be painful, talking to a loved one will help your family make these tough choices if it becomes necessary.

So, just be careful while having this conversation under your tree. If you become too deeply involved in “having the conversation” a squirrel is likely to steal your sandwich right out of your hand. Squirrels love peanut butter.

There are many resources available online or talk to your doctor having an advance directive. If you have questions about making healthcare decisions or medical power of attorney, please contact the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors at 800.347.5297 and our hotline attorneys will be happy to answer your questions.

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