By: Ms. J
Today is the 7th annual National Healthcare Decision Day. This day is to “inspire, educate & empower the public & providers about the importance of advance care planning.” (Nhdd). As much as most of us like to live in the moment and not think about the future, knowing and communicating your wishes should you be unable to, is very important. What I am talking about is planning for healthcare in advance. Should you become terminally ill, mentally disabled, aged or more, being able to express your wishes during a tough time eliminates conflict between family members, health professionals and even the government. Take for instance recent highly publicized cases such as Marlise Munoz, where her family sought to take the pregnant brain-dead Texas woman off the ventilator, or the tragic brain death of 13-year-old Jahi McMath whose mother believes that she is not a corpse. In these cases, many have advocated for either keeping them on or off life support with many reasonable explainations, however due to the fact that there was not an Advanced Directive the person cannot communicate their wishes.
The Federal Patient Self- Determination Act requires that “all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities inquire about and provide information to patients on Advance Directives; it also requires these facilities to provide community education on Advance Directives.” (42 C.F.R. § 489.102.) An Advance Directive can either be a living will or a healthcare power of attorney that speaks/ makes decisions on your behalf about your health.
Although, it is a depressing act to think about doing, we all at some point in our lives will die, thus the best we can do is to prepare for the inevitable. This should and can be done at any age and as you get older and your views change so should your Advance Directives. For instance, I at this point in my life would not want to be in a vegetable state, therefore my request for my family would be to pull the plug should I show no signs of improvement after a certain amount of time (I haven’t decided that yet).
Think about it and draw up either a Living Will or Power of Attorney should it ever be put to use.
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