Monday, September 10, 2007

Advanced directives/Living wills

Post 100! When I began writing this blog, I wasn’t sure if it would last a week, let alone for 100 posts. Where’s my cake? {grin}.

Ok, now for the stuff that people come for:

How many of you have advanced directives or a living will? If you don’t have one, have you thought about one?

I’m working on a proposal for a potential client and one part includes information on advanced directives, what’s involved and why people should have them. I don’t have one on paper, although I have discussed this with family and friends. Considering my work as a nurse, after seeing what I have seen, you would think that I would have it more together and have my wishes written out, but I am like millions of other North Americans and just haven’t gotten around to doing it.

What are advanced directives? An advanced directive or living will is an important document that relays your wishes for health or medical care if you are unable to speak for yourself or if you are unable to make such decisions. If you don’t have an advanced directive, family or friends may be forced into the position of choosing for you. Even if you have discussed this issue with them before, it is still a difficult decision for another person to make. By having a living will, you keep others from having to take on the burden.

Advanced directives may sometimes be called DNRs or Do Not Resuscitate orders, but a DNR order is more specific than an advanced directive. DNR means simply that: no CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). A living will addresses more than just CPR. It addresses issues like if you should be placed on a ventilator if you can’t breathe, if you should be tube fed if you can’t eat, if you should be treated for illnesses other than the one causing your incapacity, and so on. An advanced directive tells the healthcare professionals how much you want done. It can even include if you wish to have your organs donated for transplantation.

When having an advanced directive or living will drawn up, check with your state or provincial laws to see what is required. If your document isn’t legally sound, first responders and other healthcare professionals cannot abide by it and must, legally, try to save your life.

Once you have made your advanced directives, make sure that the important people in your life have a copy. The document won’t be of any use if no-one knows about it or doesn’t have access to it. Be sure to review them regularly. Situations change and people change; how you feel when you write the initial document may not be the same as a year later.

And please, if you haven’t considered being an organ donor, think about it. So many lives can be saved by just one person.

News for Today:
Antidepressant shows early promise in treating agitation and psychotic symptoms of dementia
Depression makes chronic disease worse: WHO
Oncologists are critical in managing psychiatric disorders in patients with advanced cancer
Frequent alcohol consumption increases cancer risk in older women

1 comment:

Crabby McSlacker said...

Good reminder Marijke!

We have them but we haven't even looked at them in over 10 years so it's probably time to take them out and make sure they reflect our current wishes!