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In this coronavirus pandemic, a difficult question demands an answer: if you or someone you love is taken down by an illness, how far would you want extreme life-prolonging measures to be tried? Does your family also know the answer to this question? Who makes the call?
The threats posed by the current virus most often implicate breathing problems, not memory loss or heart failure. Memory loss, heart failure and stroke are conditions mainly associated with advanced healthcare directives. However, breathing difficulties may mean being placed on a ventilator, which makes most unable to make their own healthcare decisions.
A 2017 study by the National Library of Medicine showed that only approximately one-third of Americans had advanced healthcare directives. Back then, most of us could not have imagined being in a pandemic like the one now. You can provide guidance by creating Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.
Even if you or your loved ones have already done the responsible thing and created advance directives, now is the time to review those documents to make sure they reflect your wishes under current conditions. After you have reviewed your documents, make sure to talk with your appointed agents about those decisions you have made.
You have the opportunity to discuss end of life wishes with your agents and family. Let these individuals express your desires and not place end of life decisions on them.
Standard advance healthcare directives do not address ventilators. At Schluesche Fields S.C., we have adapted our Health Care Power of Attorney to specifically address Covid-19 and the need for a ventilator.
With these modified directives, you can give your healthcare agent the ability to place you on a ventilator, and the ability to remove you from one. It is of the utmost importance that you discuss the circumstances under which you would want both of those measures to be taken.
Think about what you would want done for yourself and talk with your agent and family about your decisions. If you have not completed these important documents, call Schluesche Fields S.C. for your advance health-care directives – and may you and yours not need them for a good long while.