How important is a healthcare directive for your ailing parents?

As elderly Florida residents plan for their end of life care and create a trust or will, there are some important decisions to make. One of those is if your parent needs a healthcare directive and how it can benefit you and your siblings if there is an accident or injury and your parent is unable to make decisions for themselves.

UCI Health defines a health care directive as a decision that is recognized in all states and as part of most medical records. Attorneys, healthcare professionals, retiree organizations and hospice professionals often encourage people to have a healthcare directive. This form allows a person to appoint someone to make end of life decisions about their medical and comfort care if they are incapacitated. Most people choose a close friend or family member to make these decisions, but also discuss with them what they want before the decisions are necessary.

A healthcare directive minimizes stress, provides peace of mind for loved ones and reduces any conflict about what patients want. At times when emotions are high and fast decisions must be made, it is easy to fight with a sibling or other relative who does not agree with your decisions about your parent. This form spells out, in detail, exactly what the person would want if they needed an intervention to save their life.

Some do not want to be kept on life support, others have specific instructions about comfort care of palliative care. Many want spiritual care and want visitors limited if they are ill. When choosing a person to make these decisions, peoples want to consider someone who has similar values and understands the wishes of the individual.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.