April 12, 2016
Forward-Thinking Brings Peace of Mind
What if you were in a serious accident or came down with a life-threatening illness and couldn’t speak for yourself? Would your family or caregivers know what you would or wouldn’t want them to do?
While no one likes to think of these scenarios, planning for your care in advance provides peace of mind not only for you, but also for your loved ones.
Advance care planning is the process of understanding, discussing and planning your care for a time when you cannot make your own medical decisions. This process typically involves learning about treatment options, talking about your decisions with your loved ones and your physician, and documenting those wishes before a crisis occurs.
Advance care planning is customized to reflect your personal preferences and health needs, as well as your social, cultural and religious requirements.
Advance care planning is an ongoing conversation, rather than a single discussion, because your wishes and circumstances may change.
The Advance Health Care Directive (advance directive) and the Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) are the official forms that document your right to give instructions about your health care.
The advance directive (formerly referred to as a living will) guides your loved ones and doctors on your end of life wishes. It also gives you the option to appoint your health care power of attorney(s).
It is important that the person you choose is able and willing to carry out your wishes.
If you have a serious illness, it is recommended that you write your wishes on a POLST document. The POLST guides emergency medical services providers and doctors on the care you want to receive. Your doctor or advance practice registered nurse must review and sign the POLST form.
How to Get Started
Hawaii Pacific Health offers support through its skilled advance care team, a specially trained group of willing, competent and patient-centered clinicians. Team members take the time to ask the questions needed to help you make informed patient-centered decisions.
If you would like more information, contact your physician, nurse or social worker.
You can get advance directive and POLST forms from your doctor, at the hospital or from the Kokua Mau website. Once the forms are completed, provide a copy to your doctor for your medical records and loved ones so they are aware of your preferences.
Remember, it is highly encouraged that you have these conversations early and often. You may update the forms if you change your mind about the care you would like to receive.