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Advance Care Planning Conversations Before the Crisis

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016
Coffee Talks

Developing an advance directive can provide comfort and guidance to families during a health crisis. Learn more at our Coffee Talk on September 19.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

It's a subject many people don't look forward to discussing – the end of life.

Yet, it's a fact of life, and healthcare and legal professionals urge you to make your wishes known to avoid confusion and despair should you become gravely ill or critically injured.

Among the most important components of an advance directive — the document that states your wishes for end of life — is the healthcare power of attorney. This is a document in which you identify who you would want to make important decisions on your behalf if you became unable to do so. This person is called an agent, and you can choose up to three different individuals as agents (in case the first or second agent is not available).

By naming a healthcare agent when you are healthy, you will make sure that someone you trust can make healthcare decisions for you if you become too ill or injured to make them yourself. This person can be just about anyone and does not have to be a blood relative.

Living Will

Another important document, and another type of advance directive, is the living will. This document covers the extent of care you would want to receive (or forgo) should you become unable to communicate your wishes yourself and have an end-stage medical condition or are permanently unconscious.

A living will spells out what kind of quality of life is acceptable to you and conveys this to loved ones and physicians on your behalf. Drafting a living will while you are healthy can help alleviate some of the distress that occurs during an unexpected health crisis.

"When something like this happens, nobody knows what to do," says Steve Day, Jr., Esq., director of risk and privacy officer at Doylestown Health. "A well done document clearly articulates your wishes to loved ones and doctors. This gives family members the comfort that they are fulfilling their loved one's wishes."

In Pennsylvania, there are very few requirements when it comes to making an advance directive. You need to sign the document, have it witnessed, and be 18 or older. You can find sample forms on the Doylestown Health website, and there are numerous other options online.

You should give copies of the form to your primary doctor, family, and anyone else you would like to include (for example, clergy). When you send a copy to Medical Records at Doylestown Hospital, the document becomes part of your medical record.

Conversations Before the Crisis

The important thing to remember is to have these conversations with loved ones and medical care providers while you are still healthy. Join us to learn how to start the dialogue and what you need to know to develop an advance directive. Advance care planning is deeply personal, and its important make your preferences known.

Attend an Advance Directives Workshop

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive system of inpatient, outpatient and community services connected to meet the health and wellness needs of all members of the community. Our independent and nonprofit system is dedicated to healthcare excellence from childbirth to end-of-life care.

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