A powerful, personal segment aired on NBC’s Rock Center TV show in December. The report featured a couple in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at a local hospital that interviews patients to get their input on the care they prefer to receive.
The husband has inoperable lung cancer. Watching the man and his wife answer the questions may make you cry, just as the conversation brought tears to the couple’s eyes. But both recognize the value of advance directive. You can view the segment, which runs just over 8 minutes, by clicking here.
When a patient is unable, due to physical or mental incapacitation, to communicate his or her desires about treatment, the advance directive provides guidance for both family members and medical personnel.
At Hope Hospice, we provide new patients with a form called The Five Wishes. They are asked to select their Health Care Agent to make health care decisions “when I can’t make them for myself.” Patients are also asked about the kind of treatment they want or don’t want. They can indicate it they wish to be placed on life support or not.
Wishes include “my wish for how comfortable I want to be” and “my wish for how I want people to treat me.” As the note on the front of the form indicates, “Contents are of significant value and, if notarized, are recognized as a legal document.”
The Missouri Attorney General’s office has an excellent Life Choices form available online, which allows medical patients to designate wishes for end of life. This pdf also lists many things to be concerned about as you or a loved one face the end of life. You may download that form by clicking here. Please check out the useful information on page 24 of the form about hospice care.
Of course, the value of advance directive is realized when death is close at hand. Should medical staff do everything possible to keep the patient alive or should they focus on making the patient comfortable? When that question is answered, in advance, by the patient, end of life decisions are less stressful for all.
We at Hope Hospice are always happy to share our Five Wishes form with interested parties and we are ready to share our thoughts about the Life Choices form from the Attorney General’s office. Call us anytime with your questions about hospice care at 314-984-9800.