A designated health care surrogate stands up for your wishes
For many people, the thought of estate planning is difficult enough. Thinking about what will happen to their families and their possessions after they die can be overwhelming, which is why so many put off this critical task until it is too late. However, what may be even more challenging for some is creating an advance directive.
Advance directives are documents that provide your loved ones with the information they may need to ensure you receive the kind of medical care you desire if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Having such documents in place can relieve your family of having to make painful decisions without knowing if they would be what you want.
Difficult questions to consider
An accident or sudden illness can occur at any time, leaving you unable to speak to communicate what you want doctors to do for you. These kinds of emergencies do not happen only to the elderly, and too often, spouses or children must make choices filled with uncertainty. However, if you have a living will in place and have designated a health care surrogate, you may provide your loved ones with peace of mind at a very difficult time.
Your chosen surrogate should be someone you trust to make decisions based on your best interests and your desires expressed in your advance directive, so he or she should understand the following:
- What do you consider to be quality of life?
- Under what circumstances will you refuse to allow machines to sustain your life?
- Do you want pain medication, even if it prevents you from understanding what is going on around you?
- Are there circumstances when you will want doctors to cease life-saving measures, such as CPR, intubation or feeding tubes?
- If you become unable to care for yourself, would you consent to admission to a nursing home?
- Is it important that you are home at the end of your life?
- What religious beliefs will you want your surrogate to honor if you become incapacitated or reach the end of your life?
As you can see by these few questions, creating an advance directive and discussing these matters with your chosen surrogate is not always easy. It can be quite emotional, and that is normal. However, it is important that you designate someone who will understand and respect your wishes and stand up for what you desire, even if other family members or medical personnel resist. Having a power of attorney document prepared by a skilled Florida attorney can also put the law in your corner.