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 PLANNING AHEAD
Practical Matters
Many people on hospice have practical questions about “getting their affairs in order.” Thinking and planning ahead about these matters can help give peace of mind. Checklists can be useful in thinking through some of these matters. Your Hospice Social Worker can go through these lists with you and provide suggestions in needed areas.
ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
An advance directive form puts your wishes about your healthcare in writing. It lets your family, physician, and others involved in your care know your wishes if you become unable to communicate for yourself. In addition to ensuring that your wishes will be respected, filling out an advance directive takes some of the weight off the shoulders of loved ones; they do not have to guess about what you would have wanted.
An advance directive has two parts. In the first part you can name a person to be your “healthcare agent.” This person can legally make health care decisions on your behalf. The agent is also called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. In the second part you can name the treatments you would and would not want, and under what circumstances. This includes things like feeding tubes, ventilators, and CPR.
Thinking It Over
Developing an advance directive involves thinking about what you would want for yourself and then talking those ideas over with people you trust. What would be your highest priority? It might be to be free of pain, or to not be on a ventilator (breathing machine), or to avoid going into the hospital.
Choosing an Agent
When choosing an agent, you should consider people over 18 years old who know you and who you believe will honor your values and wishes, even if your wishes are different from theirs. The agent must be willing to accept this responsibility, be available, and be strong enough to ask questions and stand up for you.
The agent you choose may be a family member, a friend, or even your attorney.
Your Hospice Social Worker can answer any questions you may have about filling out an advance healthcare directive.
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