April is National Healthcare Decision Month. What does this mean for you? Anyone can suffer a serious or life-threatening illness or injury. Have you had a conversation with your loved ones about your healthcare wishes? Most people when asked say that they do not want to spend their last moments on earth in the ICU attached to machines and monitors. How do you picture your last days or hours? Maybe you want to be at home with your family and friends and your comfort attended to and pain controlled.
Many online resources exist to get that conversation started. They will let you specify which medical interventions you would or would not want and allow you to designate a healthcare representative if you are unable to make decisions on your own. Although this can be difficult to bring up with your loved ones, this is an important topic. Check your state laws to see which forms are considered legal medical orders and which are not.
Here are some videos about how to talk to your family about this topic.
Or, you may like Five Wishes, which lets your family and doctors know:
• Who you want to make healthcare decisions for you when you can’t make them.
• The kind medical treatment you want or don’t want.
• How comfortable you want to be.
• How you want people to treat you.
• What you want your loved ones to know.
Some prefer a living will.
Also, a national movement is taking place to standardize the form for medical orders at the end of life called POST, POLST, or MOST. You may have heard about new legislation passed in your state regarding this. A POST is physician orders for scope of treatment and covers healthcare representative, CPR, artificial hydration and nutrition, ventilators, pain management, and other interventions.
Whatever you do, get talking.
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Linda Dolan, MSN, ANP-BC, ACHPN, is a palliative nurse practitioner who leads the palliative care service at Hendricks Regional Hospital in Danville, IN. She has expertise in palliative care, survivorship, pain management, and gerontology. Linda lives in the woods in Monrovia, IN, and enjoys reading, nature, animals, and especially time with her family. She blogs at "The 'P' Word." You can also follow Linda on Twitter at @PalliNP Read more articles by Linda P. Dolan, MSN, ANP-BC, ACHPN.