A specialist attorney has flagged up the dangers of not having healthcare directives as part of a living will for aging parents or relatives. —
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Denis Toman, founder of The Elderlaw Firm in Greensboro, NC, said: "As we are living in uncertain times of medical emergency, the importance of what happens to you when you're alive but incapable of making decisions, is as vital as deciding what happens to your assets when you die."
A good strategy, according to Toman, is to map out a loved one's medical wishes. Having healthcare directives can greatly ease both you and your loved one's stresses, particularly during medical emergencies.
A living will, also known as an Advanced Directive, can make explicit certain end-of-life decisions, which can significantly lift a loved one's burden to make that call. He said: "Only after someone's primary physician signs off they're unable to make decisions on their own does a living will take effect."
Issues often found in a living will include whether or not someone receives intervention such as CPR or being hooked up to a ventilator to stay alive.
Toman advised that a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form should be aligned to a Living Will. "A DNR order informs a healthcare professional not to administer CPR through certain drugs, artificial breath tubes, chest compressions, or a defibrillator if a patient's heart stops or if they stop breathing."
The DNR is signed by the person's physician and posted in a conspicuous place in the person's home. "It's important to inform family and friends of a DNR order so they can notify medical professionals in case of an emergency."
A Medical (or Health Care) Power of Attorney is also vital to healthcare directives for anyone aging.
He elaborated: "This allows the person making the document to assign a trusted individual, or agent, to make medical decisions on their behalf after they are deemed unable to do so. This includes all healthcare-related decisions, so the person entrusted to this role must be comfortable carrying out those medical wishes."
Under a Medical (or Health Care) Power of Attorney, the agent has the authority to execute specified health care wishes in court, decide on the hiring and firing of doctors and other medical professional workers dealing with treatments, and receive access to medical records if the document is properly drafted with the appropriate HIPAA language.
"To ensure you have all your bases covered, it is recommended to consult an experienced Estate Planning or Elder Law attorney for the best outcome," he concluded.
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