End-of-Life Care Decision Making
End-of-life care decisions all too often fall to family members—spouses, kids or other loved ones who find themselves making critical choices with little information to go on. End-of-life care plans are meant to offer guidance in these situations and avoid expensive, prolonged care. They take much of the pressure off of loved ones, putting wishes regarding treatment, interventions and palliative care in writing.
Creating an end-of-life care plan is not difficult, but it does take some thought. Some choose to discuss matters with their doctor or family members first. If you’re facing a specific diagnosis, it may be particularly helpful to understand what types of decisions will come up in the course of your treatment. After you’ve decided on what’s most important to you, it’s time to establish an Advance Directive for Healthcare.
Establishing an Advance Directive for Healthcare
In Georgia, Advance Directives offer instructions regarding the type of care you wish to receive or avoid if you can’t make the decision yourself.
In an Advance Directive, you may also state specific wishes regarding palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to make the patient, even one who has no further treatment options, as comfortable as possible. You may wish to die at home, to have your pain managed or to skip aggressive treatments with unknown outcomes.
Advance Directives also cover your wishes regarding:
-Donating your body to medical science
Choosing a healthcare agent
Of course, it’s impossible to know what decisions will arise at the end of life. You can state your wishes in an advance directive and share your decisions with your doctor and family, but you may still need someone to make choices for you in the moment if you’re incapacitated. You can designate an agent in your Advance Directive. A healthcare agent acts as your advocate, helping ensure any medical decisions are in line with your wishes.
How to prepare your advance directive for healthcare
An attorney can make the process of planning for end-of-life care less overwhelming, often including your advance healthcare directive as a component of your estate planning. This allows you to consider the entire picture, taking things like long-term care funding into account.
After your documents are signed, you’ll want to share copies with your doctor and your designated agent. It’s also smart to talk about the process and your stated wishes with family members. This way, they have the chance to work through any concerns instead of being taken by surprise at the bedside.
Your values and wishes may change over time. Everyone should have an advance directive for healthcare since an accident or life-threatening disease or illness can strike at any age, at any time—as COVID-19 has all too clearly shown us. As you age, or if you’re diagnosed with a specific illness, you can revisit your documents. Be sure you share new copies with your doctor.
By taking on these decisions yourself, you have a better chance of avoiding treatment situations you know you don’t want. You’re also helping to protect your loved ones from the burden of making heavy choices with only limited guidance to go on.
Speak With an Atlanta Elder Lawyer
At Nadler Biernath, we have experience handling all aspects of elder law. Contact us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.