Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Whether we like it or not, we all need to prepare for the worst. This is difficult because we have to admit our own mortality and that death will eventually happen. Of course, it does not apply only to individuals with heart failure. None of us make it out of the world alive. However, when life takes its course, we all need to be prepared for final decisions and how we want our end-of-life care to take place. Not only will this help to ensure your wishes are met, but it will also make it much easier for your loved ones to make decisions knowing what you wanted.
Medical power of attorney
Essentially, a medical power of attorney is someone that you appoint to make decisions about your care when you are unable to. This can include a variety of decisions so check with your state as to what is included. Before choosing someone, talk with them about your wishes and how they feel about them. You may feel pressured or obligated to choose your significant other or child to make decisions for you. I suggest talking with them about your wishes and how they feel about them, then talk with close friends and other family members.
Find out who agrees with your wishes and who you feel will keep your interests a top priority. It could be difficult for a significant other or child to carry out a decision such as removing life support, even if they know it’s what you want. Some people even choose a trusted doctor for this role knowing they will make a decision based on science rather than emotion.
An advanced directive is a way to put in writing your desires in specific situations. You may not always have your medical power of attorney available, and you may wish to have in writing some of your medical wishes. Not only will this assist your medical power of attorney in knowing they are making a decision you want, but it will also let any doctor taking care of you know your wishes. It is a good way to help ensure your care is handled the way you want it to be.
One thing you may want to find out is which one holds more power when the time to make the decision comes. Ask your doctor if your advanced directive is followed even if your medical power of attorney tries to go against your wishes, or if they follow your medical power of attorney regardless. It’s good to know how this works when you can’t speak for yourself.
Even if you think you have no assets or anything of value, it is a good idea to have a will so that there is no confusion or unnecessary tension when your possessions need to be divided or given to family and friends. Choose to do what you want with your possessions and money, even if it’s giving it to charity, but decide on something and put it in a legal document. It’s the responsible thing to do.
Research the laws in your state and make sure you follow the proper channels in drafting and finalizing your will. Simply writing one out yourself probably won’t hold up in court and your wishes for who gets what from you may not be followed.
Hopefully this helps guide you in the right direction when preparing for the worst. It is not the most uplifting topic, but it is necessary to prepare for end-of-life decisions, even if you don’t plan on needing them anytime soon. When the time comes, your friends and family will thank you for helping them in this difficult time.
Besides heart failure, do you have any other chronic medical conditions?
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