Planning for the ‘what-ifs’

Posted on February 3, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

 

I’m 38 years old, pretty healthy…I don’t concern myself about what ‘could’ happen. I’m an optimist. But truth be told, if something WERE to happen, something catastrophic – and I cannot make my own decisions about healthcare or my wishes for life-sustaining treatment….what then? I think many people are in the same boat with me on this…..we put off the planning partly because we don’t want to think about it, it’s a troublesome topic, but it is essential. Think about the stress our loved ones will be under, in the scenario described above – and they then have physicians asking them the tough questions about what to do and how you would like to be treated.

So, I am making an effort to encourage you to start thinking about your wishes, and then formalizing it so that if the ‘what if’ happens, everyone involved will know how you would like them to proceed. In California, there’s a great form now being used called the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)…I think it’s great, because it is more universal than having separate sheets for DNR (do not resuscitate), advanced directives, et cetera. The POLST is printed and copied onto bright pink card stock paper, and emergency respondents know to look for it. The POLST contains information such as, do you want first responders to attempt CPR or not? Medical interventions – are you for comfort measures only, or do you want full treatment (like breathing machines). The POLST goes into even more detail about artificially administered nutrition, in case you are unable to do so independently – some opt for no nutrition by tube, and others may was long-term tube feeding, it’s a personal decision. Your loved ones may not know your wishes, unless you explicitly lay it out for them.

The POLST requires a physician signature, and a copy should be given to your primary care MD, friends and loved ones involved in your care. It can be updated at any time, and SHOULD BE updated any time you change your mind about your preferences for treatment. I encourage you to start thinking about your wishes ‘just in case’ of the ‘what-ifs’ and put a plan into action. AND, encourage your loved ones to do the same.

For questions or more resources about planning for care, please contact me at holly@crescentgcm.com or 858.349.4403.

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