What Do I Need to Know about End-of-Life Care?

Las Vegas's Estate Planning Resource

Unfortunately, only about a third of U.S. adults had an advance directive in recent years, according to one research analysis.

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An advance directive is a legal document that can provide instructions about the type of medical care you want, if you become seriously ill and are at the end of your life.

You can state the types of medical treatments you do and do not want to receive and can name a person to make certain that your health care decisions are followed.

US News & World Report’s recent article entitled “With COVID-19, It’s Time to Talk End-of-Life Care” explains that as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the U.S., and patients are filling ICU beds, you might not consider the fact that you should have an advance directive because you’re young and healthy. However, COVID-19 can strike a person of any age. Those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 have usually been the elderly and those with chronic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. However, the coronavirus has also claimed the lives or seriously afflicted younger people and professional athletes.

You can make a number of decisions about your end-of-life care. They include whether you want everything possible done to keep your vital organs working—sometimes called “heroic measures”—like as being placed on a ventilator to support breathing or initiating dialysis for failing kidneys. There also are decisions to make, if your heart stops beating due to cardiac arrest and whether you would like to have CPR or defibrillation performed to revive you.

Some people will sign a “do not resuscitate” or “DNR” order. That means that no measures are to be taken to revive the patient. Many who have a DNR believe that they have enjoyed a good life and do not want to live their final days in an incapacitated state.

They only ask to pass away without suffering and with “comfort care,” which focuses on symptom control and pain relief.

You should make these types of decisions after you have some frank conversations with your family, so they understand your wishes.

You can modify an advance directive document, and that for some states, a living will and health care proxy forms are combined into one document. For other states, the forms are separate.