Advance Healthcare Directives: Now Is a Good Time to Plan Ahead

Advance Healthcare Directives: Now Is a Good Time to Plan Ahead
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“Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.” – “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom

Maybe it is because of my work in hospice care, but talking about death and dying doesn’t bother me. Many others, however, are not ready to discuss death. I get it, it’s not a fun topic. But it is part of life.

There is never a good time to discuss dying, so let’s start by having these discussions. Why is death and dying such an overlooked topic within the PH community? Don’t get me wrong, I want to live as long as God allows me to. I want to see a cure for all of us with PH! But PH or not, we are all born, and we all die.

Planning ahead

Despite feeling comfortable discussing death, talking with my family about my death is not so easy. Several years ago, after a hospitalization, my doctor suggested it was time for me to make some tough decisions. He was right, and I completed a directive to my physician and family and a “do not resuscitate” form. These forms are now a part of my medical files. The main hospital I visit and my team of doctors have them on file.

What are advance healthcare directives?

Advance directives are legal documents that acknowledge one’s end-of-life care wishes. These documents help prevent any confusion when the time comes. Having them in place makes gut-wrenching decisions a little easier for my family.

Because of my previous work in hospice care nursing, I watched families and loved ones struggle when making these decisions. They often said things like, “If only we knew her wishes.”

When a loved one is dying, the family has enough stress and heartache as it is. Help your family help you by making your needs known in advance.

I would hate to leave this burden to my husband and daughter. That is why I have these documents in place. I downloaded them for free, completed and signed them, and had them notarized. If at any time I wish to make changes, I can do that, too. I would discuss that first with my team of doctors and then have a new and updated form notarized.

No better time than now

Several months ago, in the middle of a pandemic, a PH forum member shared her thoughts about making tough decisions about her young adult daughter. After that, she decided it was time to plan, and she completed her advance directives. These examples show how important it is to prepare ourselves and our loved ones while we are healthy enough to do so.

As I reminded her, planning with advance healthcare directives is not something only the aging population should do. Given the current situation in the world, what better time is there to prepare than now? None of us know when an emergency will arise.

Do you discuss your end-of-life choices with your family? If not, do you plan to make this part of your future discussions? To download your state’s free forms, check out the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.

Jen is a columnist and forum moderator for PH News Today. Jen worked in nursing before the script changed upon her diagnosis of PH in 2005. Advocating and meeting those with PH has always been an essential part of her life. Her passion is to instill hope and remind others in the PH community that they are not alone. In her weekly column, she delves into the roller coaster of emotions that come along with PH. Jen lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband and mini-schnauzer. Together we PHight stronger.
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Jen is a columnist and forum moderator for PH News Today. Jen worked in nursing before the script changed upon her diagnosis of PH in 2005. Advocating and meeting those with PH has always been an essential part of her life. Her passion is to instill hope and remind others in the PH community that they are not alone. In her weekly column, she delves into the roller coaster of emotions that come along with PH. Jen lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband and mini-schnauzer. Together we PHight stronger.
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