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Advance Directives

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

Caregivers may be taken aback by hospice employees who clearly state that hospice does not “correct” or “cure” the illness. Once past this blunt statement, caregivers can find relief that there will be continuous care, and the loved one will not suffer needless pain.

This was the option Annie chose for her mother. She didn’t realize it at the time, but it was hospice care, not a nursing facility, that would meet her mother’s wishes. Everything would be done to keep her attended and free of pain. Minor problems would be addressed by the hospice physician. There would be no extensive measures with possible complications that would require other extensive measures.

While Annie’s mother preferred her life to be prolonged by any available means, no one had considered that more procedures might create problems that would deteriorate her permanently.

Calculating The Odds

Discussing advance directives can be an uncomfortable topic, and predicting the various turns health might take can be unclear. Updating advance directives yearly can offset the discomfort of approaching a tough subject. It also helps with determining which options might be best for the foreseeable future.

Caregivers must also consider advance directives for their own needs. While one’s health may be in top shape at one time, other factors may come into play where the caregiver needs a healthcare advocate. The loved one being cared for may be completely unable to handle such decisions. Managing one’s own possible needs is another aspect of caring for the loved one.

Where Trust Lies

Technology has grown exponentially since the 1960s, and while we still place our faith in doctors and medicine, it is our family members who end up making the final decisions. Unless a medical case has been taken over by the court system, doctors will provide information and guide family to a competent decision. Still, we may not “like” the doctor assigned to a loved one’s case, or there may be other factors that interfere with being able to stop extensive treatment regimens.

Keeping family abreast of changes in decisions, understanding different treatment options, and other needs can be done via Lotsa Helping Hands, a free online service.

Everyone can follow up as they choose. It is also a way for the primary caregiver to stay in touch with any secondary advocates.


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