We may all reach a point where we are no longer able to make the best decisions for our own medical care. We must recognize this possibility, realize it may happen suddenly or slowly, and plan accordingly. Getting dignified and appropriate healthcare may not be easy when you are severely ill, especially if you are not able to express your wishes and at the end of your life.
Having a severe illness is difficult for anyone. It is harder still if you are not able to let your family or healthcare team know what kind of care you want. In this situation, they would have to decide what they think is best for you and act accordingly.
While you can’t predict every possibility, you must plan for the life and death decisions that are important to you. This will ease the burden of decisions that your family would otherwise need to make for you.
End of Life
End of life decisions are deferred because most patients, loved ones, and even medical professionals have difficulty acknowledging impending death and may be uncomfortable addressing death. In order to get the proper care that you want, you must have “The Conversation” to get everyone on board with your wishes.
Even if they are comfortable talking about dying, many providers are not aware of the best way to care for terminal patients, especially the elderly. Despite this, you should talk to them about an Advance Care Plan. Medicare and Medicaid may pay for it.
There are many other places to turn for this type of advice and care, such as Hospice. It will be up to you to learn as much as you can.
Other Causes of Losing the Ability to Make Decisions
Many neurologic conditions which affect the brain may result in loss of your ability to make your own medical decisions. Whether it is sudden such as a head injury or brain infection, or progresses over time as with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, it is important to plan.
In this section, we will provide guidance on these issues and point you toward resources that will help you create a plan and set it in motion.