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Advanced Directives vs. Living Wills

By Beth Brown, 9:00 am on

Approaching end-of-life discussions with a senior loved one is never easy, but it can be made even harder if the family member or live-in Palm Beach caregiver broaching the conversation isn’t well-informed either. This is often the case on a murky subject like advanced directives and living wills. Today, we’ll briefly cover the basics of both in hopes caregivers will have an easier time starting those important discussions.

Advanced Directives 

An advance directive is a written legal document spelling out a person’s preferences for medical care in the event that he or she is incapacitated and unable to make these decisions. It’s important for all adults to prepare these documents, but particularly important for seniors and those who have serious medical issues. Though it can be difficult to discuss end-of-life decisions with your loved one, having your loved one’s decisions in writing will help family members avoid disagreements, arguments, and unnecessary stress over making these decisions on his or her behalf later on.

Another type of advance directive, a medical power of attorney, lists who can make medical decisions on a person’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so. This person should be a trusted advocate, typically a family member, with whom your loved one has discussed his or her end-of-life wishes.

Living Will

Although living wills and advanced directives are often thought of as separate entities, a living will is simply a specific type of advance directive. Living wills specifically list the medical treatments that a person wants and does not want to keep them alive. Some examples include resuscitation, medical ventilation, tube feeding, and dialysis. A “Do Not Resuscitate” or “Do Not Intubate” order can also be a separate advance directive even if a person does not have a living will.

It can be very difficult to discuss such sensitive topics. One way to make it a little easier is to avoid making it about death and instead focus on your loved one’s values and wishes. When put in writing, this will allow the family to come together rather than debate and divide on what your loved one would have wanted. His or her doctor can also be part of an informed discussion, and you will need to involve an attorney who specializes in elder law to ensure the legality of the documents.

Another touchy topic that sometimes needs to be discussed is ongoing care. Chances are, your senior loved one wishes to remain in the comfort of his or her own home for as long as possible. If that’s the case, Palm Beach home care provider, Home Care Assistance, is the right choice for your loved one. Our trusted and capable caregivers can help with a wide range of tasks and activities, promoting a safe, happy, and healthy lifestyle. Give us a call at 561.429.8292 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with an experienced Care Manager and learn more. We look forward to being of service!