The best answer I can give to that question is to work diligently to care for ourselves, and keep ourselves in the best of physical and mental health as we age. There are many things we can do in that regard. The most obvious of which is to pay attention to our bodies, notice any changes in our health and contact a physician if something is not right. We can keep our minds sharp by using our brain in many different ways. We can keep our bodies healthy by staying active, moving our bodies for fitness, and feeding ourselves a healthy diet.
As we discussed in our previous blog post, it is important to have a plan for your health.
Having that plan is only the first step. There are many things each of us must do from that point to ensure we are preparing for success in our health outcomes.
Once we have clearly established our plan, we must properly document those wishes.
There are a few different ways to document, so you should always speak with a lawyer.
In a simple sense, the first document should be your Advanced Directives. This is a document by which you make provisions for your own health care decisions in the event that you become unable (whether temporarily or permanently) to make those decisions. This document will outline your preferences regarding life saving or life sustaining measures in the event of a severe medical condition. Questions may include whether you want a machine to help you breathe, a tube to help feed you, as well as certain types of medical procedures you would allow. These types of decisions should ALWAYS be made individually, and when you are of sound mind.
The Advanced Directives could also name a person to be your healthcare proxy, who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. To reiterate, this is why it is important to have this discussion in advance, and to choose someone as your advocate who will carry out YOUR WISHES.
This healthcare proxy can be named in your Healthcare Power of Attorney document.
I recommend having one person named as your Power of Attorney and one as a backup in the event the first person can not be available.
In many states there is a form, called a MOLST form, which can outline these wishes across many medical situations. MOLST stands for Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. This is a form which you would complete with your primary care physician. The physician’s signature certifies the document.
Once you have completed your documentation, be certain to put a complete copy of your documents in an envelope posted on your refrigerator. This should also include a list of your health issues, current medications, and known allergies. Mark it “Emergency Documents” and if, God forbid, there is an emergency, the EMT will know to look there and carry those documents with you.
The better you prepare for an emergency, the more you will improve your chance that the outcomes are within your control.