Making Health Care Decisions

As we recognize Healthcare Decision Day annually on April 16, we want to encourage you to start the conversation with your family on what is important to you during times of healthcare emergencies or end of life care.  We realize that talking about these sensitive topics is not an easy task, but having conversations will help your family understand and respect your wishes and make educated health decision for you when you may not be able to make your own.

How much do the people who are important to you know about what matters most to you?  While they may be aware of certain preferences there may also be other choices that you need to share with them such as your preference on medical interventions during an emergency or at end-of-life care. Sometimes we might think others know how we feel, but that is not necessarily accurate. Candid conversations help make what we think and how we feel about our healthcare choices as clear as possible to those around us thus helping create the foundation of a care plan that’s right for you.

What do you do next?   Once you have discussed and made your decisions, record your personal wishes with an advance directive.  This is a legal document that ensures your choices are followed. An advance directive consists of two important parts:

  1. Health Care Proxy
    Your health care proxy, or healthcare advocate, is someone of your choosing who would make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to answer for yourself.  You may also name an alternate proxy in case the first is not available.  Be sure to have a continual conversation with these people to be sure they understand what matters to you.  A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document in which you name the person or persons serving as your proxy.

  2. Living Will
    Your living will is a legal document where you describe your preferences and wishes for your health care if you cannot speak for yourself.  It’s important to share your advance directive with more than your proxy alone.   We recommend that you share your living will with all your children or siblings, depending on your family dynamics.  You should also share these documents with providers and facilities you choose for your healthcare services, such as Floyd Valley Healthcare.

People worry if they have advance directives in place, they will not receive the care they need.  That is not true.  In fact your wishes will be spelled out precisely in your planning documents, giving direction to your caregivers and family.  Having advance directives can also minimize stress, give your loved ones peace of mind and reduce potential conflicts among family members. 

It is time to get the conversation started.  There are many resources online that can assist you with this process as well as support through Floyd Valley Social Services.  Once you have your plans in place, be sure to consult with your legal advisor to get your wishes put in writing and shared with the appropriate outlets.