Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about your own medical choices and decision-making process?

Are you able to share what matters to you at this time in your life, but are not ready to discuss end of life issues?

Here are some of the most common questions asked. If you have a question and don’t see it below, please contact Nancy or use the form below and we’ll get an answer to you as soon as possible.

Individuals and families are very different, so consider approaching this conversation as you would with a friend, and make sure you talk about preparing for medical choices that show what is important to you during this time in your life.

It is important to stay in the present during these conversations, not projecting into the future about what tragedy or debilitating illness you or your family member might experience. Medical decisions are based on a person’s principles and values, their life experiences, and their communication style. Finding the right medical choices to consider is the same as making life decisions about careers, lifestyles, places to live and life partners.
Example

“Hi Mom, I heard this woman speak at my business meeting about making plans for healthcare services. Do you think we can go over your healthcare plans? I’m going to talk to my (significant other) and get something down on paper. That’s what is suggested for preparing for our medical choices. I thought we could have dinner together and talk about what we want when we go to the doctor and how we feel about our options for medical treatments and such. I’d like us to do this together.”

What is a DNR and What does it do for me or my family member?

A “Do Not Resuscitate” is a medical order that can only be signed by a doctor. If you have reached a point in your life that you do not want aggressive medical interventions or treatments, please discuss having a DNR medical order prepared for you by your doctor. It is very important that your Medical Power of Attorney knows your wishes regarding your medical preferences so they can discuss this sensitive topic calmly when they are called by your doctor. Please inform your Medical Power of Attorney about your wishes to have a DNR order if a situation happens where you are unable to participate in your medical decision-making process.

When you have a DNR, Please make it available to the people closest to you so they know what your wishes and medical preferences are.  Most commonly, the document is placed in a highly visible location in the home so when emergency services are called in, they will see this document and respond accordingly.

Another option is to write a Statement of Preference that includes your wish to “Allow a Natural Death” or AND. There is no medical form for this yet, but it is very valuable for you to consider when you have reached an age or health condition that limits your physical recovery. Writing an AND is your way of saying to your family, friends and physicians that you do not want extensive or aggressive medical treatment if your heart or your breathing were to stop. Please discuss this alternative option with your family and friends, and your doctor too.

“How do I keep my wishes that I’ve already stated but now I’ve moved to a new state?”

If you have made written statements of preferences for your medical decisions, please review the requirements for the state in which you created them to those for the state to which you are moving to live. It may be a simple matter to transfer your information into the new state’s version of advance directive forms. You may need to have the forms signed by your new doctor in your new state, witnessed and notarized. A great website for online resources is www.nhdd.org.   Another simple way of making sure your preferences are recorded and updated is to write your own version of a Statement of Medical Preferences; then attach this narrative statement to your new state’s version of a Medical Durable Power of Attorney. This will insure that your preferences for medical decision-making is included in your medical records when you see your new doctor in your new state.

 

What if my family doesn’t agree or get along?

This is a very sensitive topic, and one that comes up often during medical decision-making. My first suggestion is that you prepare your own list of “very important things to me.” This is the list of things that you have learned about yourself over the years that make you who you are as a person. When we are faced with medical decision-making, we are being asked individually about what matters to us, like “How do I want to be treated when I can’t talk or respond?”, and “What do I want in my life to make it meaningful?”

My next suggestion is to share your wishes with your family members individually or together. When families are faced with medical decision-making and they are uninformed or more likely, emotionally distraught because you are injured or very sick, they need for you to have prepared guidelines for what you want and don’t want for your medical treatment and care. This will help them cope emotionally with the crisis they are facing.  BE positive and clear in stating what life matters are most important to you. Documenting this information will be extremely valuable to your family, friends, and healthcare professionals.

You may not be able to get them all to agree or get along with each other, but you will be able to help them understand what is important for you. And maybe taking this step to put your medical preferences in writing will ease this difficult burden for your family members.  They might even agree to get along because you have taken this brave step.

What if I have some health issues but I still want “to be saved?”

This is a very important question, and one that I think many people of different ages and health conditions think about often, especially with all the changes taking place in our healthcare system.

The first response I want to share is that our healthcare professionals are trained and committed to provide the best care anyone can receive. The current practice of our healthcare system is to “treat to cure” for anyone that comes to our doctors and healthcare professionals. If you find through working with your doctor that you have a variety of health issues that seem to impact your quality of life, listen to your doctor and find a way to respond to the treatments and suggestions your doctor supports for your healthcare needs. Following your doctor’s recommendations and treatment plans is the best way to return to optimal health. Your doctor will support your commitment to the treatment plan that has been designed specifically for your. You can ask for help from friends and family to support you in your medical care.

Now, the next response I have is to really listen to your internal voice, the one that has been with you forever and ever. You can continue to get curative treatments, and you can also have Palliative Care. This is the part of healthcare that supports comfort care along with your curative treatments.

Your doctor will know that you want “to be saved” because you will have had this very important and sensitive conversation. Your doctor will also follow the best practices and design your care to meet your needs. There is no need to fear you won’t “be saved” or treated, you only need to ask and discuss your fears with your healthcare professionals; they will listen.

Do you have a question that’s not on this list. Use the form below to ask Nancy. She’ll respond promptly with an answer.

Palliative Care is available to you!

Palliative Care is making its way into mainstream medical care treatment plans.  This is a new word for many people who have not needed ongoing medical care for an illness or diagnosis that involves multiple treatments over an extended period of time.  Palliative Care is simply “Comfort Care”. Often times treatments for illness like cancer, can have serious side effects. Your medical care team can suggest actions and activities that you can take while receiving your medical treatment. One such idea could be finding an audio book that you can listen to while you are receiving your treatments. Check this out with your medical team.  Another suggestion is to plan in advance for the day before and day after your treatments are scheduled to have “relaxation therapy”, this is a great way to say, it’s time to take an afternoon nap!!  Your Palliative Care goes right along side with your treatments and medical care that will give support and courage to you during a challenging time. Think about what gives you peace and calms your heart and see what your medical team can add to your “palliative care” plan!

 

What’s Your Question about Medical Decision-making, preparing for Healthcare Services, and are you will to share what you want for your End of Life Care?

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