The COVID-19 outbreak has created a climate of uncertainty that has made us all worry about our health and susceptibility to illness. It has reminded us that our own mortality isn’t guaranteed and a medical emergency can occur for anyone at any time no matter how healthy we are. It’s important for us all, no matter our age or condition, to be prepared for the possibility of incapacitation during a health crisis and even death.
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is essentially your wish list. It’s a way for you to communicate with your healthcare team if you are extremely ill and unable to verbalize or make your own decisions.
This legal document lists out your care preferences and also designates a person to make decisions for you in case you are not able to. The healthcare choices you specify in your advance directive guide your doctors and caregivers if you are terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, during the late stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, and/or near the end of life.
When these decisions are made ahead of time, they can dramatically impact the quality of your life if something were to happen to you and ensure that your wishes and preferences for care are honored. It will also help reduce the stress for those who will be responsible for making choices about your medical care while carrying out your wishes.
How can I make an advance directive?
You might also obtain an advance directive from your healthcare provider, attorney, health insurance provider, the state health department, or your local agency for aging. Conway Medical Center also provides various resources and documents for you to use on our website.
Who do I give my advance directive to?
You want your advance directive to be accessible to specific people and entities that will act on your behalf. Your advance directive won’t be much help if it is locked away in a safe deposit box.
If you are a patient of Conway Medical Center, you can provide your advance directive to our Health Information Management department or your CMC Primary Care office. The completed document will be scanned into your medical record and will be accessible to your healthcare team if you are admitted to CMC.
You may also want to provide a copy of your advance directive to the following:
- Your healthcare agent and any other alternative people who may need to act on your behalf. Keep in mind that you may need more than one agent if there is a possibility that your primary healthcare agent is incapacitated at the same time as you.
- Family members, such as a spouse, parent, sibling or children
- Your other healthcare providers
- Other hospitals in your area
- Your lawyer
- Other responsible parties who are likely to be called if there is a medical emergency, such as a business partner, friend or neighbor
- Yourself- keep a card with you that lists your healthcare agent and others who have a copy of your advance directive.
A conversation worth having
End of life discussions are never easy, but we cannot shy away from them when COVID-19 is forcing some of us to make difficult decisions regarding our loved ones. Simply taking the time to have these conversations can help ease the burden that’s created during dire health situations and ensure that our loved ones’ wishes and our own are honored.