PLAN AHEAD!!! - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital

 

PLAN AHEAD!!!

Photo of a Madison VA Social Worker assisting a patient with an advance directive.

Madison VA Social Worker assisting a patient with an advance directive.

By Stephanie Schilling, MSSW and Courtney Steinhafel MSSW
Thursday, April 11, 2013

We plan for the everyday things: the monthly budget, the weather, tonight's dinner…the list goes on and on. For many of us, this comes naturally and we do it without a second thought. It's just as important to prepare for when life doesn't go according to plan. If you were in a serious accident or suffered a medical emergency, consider these questions:

Who will make decisions about my care?

How will that person know what kind of care I would want?

Without a plan, your healthcare team won't know your wishes and often family members are left asking themselves, "Am I doing the right thing?" Advance care planning is a process. It involves thinking through your own preferences for your healthcare, having conversations about the  kind of care and treatment you would or wouldn't want, deciding who should be involved in your care and documenting those decisions. Advance care planning is important for all adults. It is an opportunity to answer the questions above before there is a crisis.

Two important tools for advance care planning are the Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Living Will which allow you to put your wishes in writing.

5 Reasons to Put It in Writing with a Power of Attorney for Health Care or Living Will:

  1. Without a Power of Attorney for Health Care, no one can automatically make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.
  2. A Power of Attorney for Health Care lets YOU select, ahead of time, the person YOU want to make health care decisions for you when you no longer can.
  3. A Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will is a gift to your family and friends; they won't have the stress and anxiety of wondering about your wishes and who you want to make medical decisions.
  4. Because your wishes are clear, a Power or Attorney for Health Care and Living Will may help your family work better together and avoid difficult disagreements.
  5. Having a Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will means medical decisions will be made faster. It avoids the need for a guardianship, a legal process involving time, money and emotional drain for your family.

April 16, 2013 is National Health Care Decisions Day 

Take some time and plan ahead for your health care. If you would like complete State specific documents follow the links below:

Illinois Living Will Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care
Wisconsin Living Will  Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care 

If you are interested in more information or assistance with advance care planning, stop by the Patient Education Resource Center (PERC) at the VA Hospital in Madison on April 16, 2013.

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