Advanced Directives: April 19, 2017
Life changing events can happen in a second and leave loved ones with questions on what to do next. Kim Pieretti, a Palliative Care clinical social worker with Lee Health, says every day accidents and unexpected illnesses happen and families are left to make big decisions about a loved one’s future. “We prepare for vacations, we prepare for retirement, and this is one area where we really do need to have at least one conversation of how we define our quality of life.”
Advanced directives are legal documents that explain exactly how we want to be medically cared for if we can no longer medically care for ourselves. “It is a blue print of what we would like and maybe what we would not like when we are unable to answer the questions for ourselves, as well as pick somebody to make those decisions,” said Pieretti.
Advanced directives can be transferred from state to state. The legal document only applies to a patient’s medical needs and only goes into effect if the patient is deemed at the end stage of an illness, is in a vegetated state, or has a terminal illness. “It is a difficult discussion to have and sometimes patients are reluctant to discuss it with their families,” said Pieretti.
Health experts recommend having a plan in place sooner than later. “Everybody over the age of 18 should have advanced directives. I’ve worked in Trauma at Lee and we have people that fall off ladders that are young, we have people that get in car accidents,” said Pieretti.
The patient should also choose a health care surrogate who understands the patient’s medical wishes. “We do these forms for free; it’s a service to the community. We will check in with patients and families and provide the documents and it can save hundreds of dollars,” said Pieretti.
A quick and important task that will relieve family members and ensure you get the quality of life you want.