There are many reasons why people fail to have their end-of-life wishes known. Often, the fear of having a conversation about such a heavy topic or being unsure of how to best communicate their wishes leads people to delay this kind of discussion. No matter the reason, preparing your end-of-life wishes doesn’t have to be a difficult or confusing experience.
In order to help clarify the process, let’s take a look at three misconceptions about end-of-life planning.
1. Misconception: an Advanced Health Care Directive only allows you to specify the medical care you do not want
An Advanced Health Care Directive – a document explaining how your medical care should be handled if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, is able to express both what treatment you don’t want as well as what you do want. The truth is that you can include any specifications about the treatment you could potentially receive in your document, regardless of whether you are encouraging or refusing any type of care.
2. Misconception: End-of-life planning is only for older adults
While it’s not surprising that end-of-life planning is most often associated with older generations, this perception is putting younger people in an undesirable position. More often than not, younger people haven’t expressed their end-of-life wishes. Should they be affected by an illness or accident, they are at great risk for not receiving the type of care they desire.
While end-of-life planning is crucial for older adults, it’s important for younger people to also consider and communicate their wishes, as well.
3. Misconception: Having a written document outlining your end-of-life wishes is the only step you must take to ensure your wishes are respected
Having written instructions outlining your end-of-life wishes does no good if the document hasn’t been shared with anyone, isn’t easily accessible, or hasn’t been discussed with friends, family and loved ones.
The New York Times shared a disheartening story of a man with dementia who had written an advanced health care directive insisting he received no life-extending care – but his doctor’s didn’t notice he had this directive until weeks after they had given him just that. His son, who signed off on the life-prolonging treatment, had never seen his father’s advanced directive and thus had no idea he was unintentionally violating his wishes.
Once you’ve written your advanced directive, share it with your loved ones, caregivers, and medical team. If they don’t know about your wishes, they won’t be able to adhere to them.
Interested in learning more about legal planning and end-of-life wishes? Join us for Legal Planning for Living with a Chronic Medical Condition on Tuesday, October 6 at Covenant Home of Chicago.
· To Ensure Your End-of-Life Wishes Are Honored, a Directive May Not be Enough – ElderLawAnswers.com
· Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills – HelpGuide.org
End-of-Life Wishes: What Everyone Needs to Talk About But No One Wants To – USNews.com