Nobody likes thinking about serious illness, especially a serious illness that could lead to death. Unfortunately, such illnesses can cause massive financial difficulties for friends and loved ones which can in turn significantly deplete the assets you had been planning to leave to your heirs. The moral of the story is that, no matter your age, it is never too early to start planning for the potential need for end-of-life care. The following tips are adapted from a recent article on this topic found in USA Today, and they may provide you with some important concepts to consider when thinking about healthcare issues.
Be Explicit About Your Wishes
Telling people in passing how you hope to be cared for in case of serious illness is important, but it isn’t necessarily always enough. It is important to write down your wishes and be explicit about how you wish your health care to be handled. You should also work with your estate planning attorney to create documents such as health care proxy nominations and/or a living will that express your healthcare wishes in detail.
At the same time, talking to your friends and family members is important, especially when it comes to an individual you are nominating to take charge of your end-of-life care. It is important that they understand the responsibility they may be faced with and important that you have accurately expressed the wishes you have also written down so that there is no confusion.
Find the Right Doctor
The article suggests that, of the various types of personalities among doctors, a collaborative doctor is the best choice for end-of-life care decisions. Collaborative doctors are more willing to work with patients to understand the individual’s goals and wishes, and to help the patient make choices that align with those desires. In other words, collaborative doctors understand your decision to not elect life support or arduous drug treatment programs when it comes to terminal illness, or vice versa. It is crucial to find a doctor that takes the time to explain all of your options for any medical treatment, but especially regarding end-of-life care so that you can make the most informed decisions ahead of time and relieve your loved ones of that responsibility.
Consider Hospice and Pre-Select One
Most Americans agree that they do not want to burden close family members and/or friends with end-of-life care responsibilities. Pre-planning is an important part of making sure that you do not have to. In addition to taking the steps above, you may want to consider what you want to do if the need for purely palliative end-of-life care arises. Hospice is a service that can often provide this type of care which is aimed at making patients comfortable while facing serious pain and illness. There are many different hospice providers, some which are faith-based and others that are not. Hospice service can even be provided at your home. If you think that a hospice setting might be right for you in that type of situation, you should spend some time researching the options that are available to you and preselecting one that you would like to work with if the need arises. This decision should also be written down and expressed to those that will be facing end-of-life care decisions with you.