How would you like to be treated if you are terminally ill? Decisions like these are best made before there is a terminal diagnosis. An important decision that you might not have thought about is your decision for health care in the future. Planning ahead for this now, while you are still able, is a gift you can give to yourself and the ones you love. Having a plan in place will make it easier for you, your doctor and your loved ones if decisions about your treatment ever need to be made and you are unable to do so at that time.
SC Law provides several documents:
Health Care Power of Attorney: This legal document allows you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are temporarily or permanently unable to do so.
Living Will (Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death): Allows you to put in writing your choices about your care ONLY if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
Living wills include your choices for the following:
- Pain relief
- Use of ventilators
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Life sustaining measures
Make sure that your loved ones and health care providers have a copy of your living will.
Five Wishes: This legal document combines a health care power of attorney and a living will and allows you to express your wishes for not only medical needs, but for personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well.
Five Wishes allows you to indicate:
- Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t voice them yourself
- Which medical treatment you want and do not want
- How comfortable you want to be
- How your family members and others treat you
- What you want your loved ones to know about your conditions
This form can be accessed online or printed for your convenience at : http://www.agingwithdignity.org. In South Carolina, this document must be witnessed and notarized.
Decisions about end-of-life care are deeply personal and are based on your values and beliefs. Because it is impossible to foresee every type of circumstance or illness, it is essential to think in general about what is important to you. Above all, advance care planning conversation will settle any concern and make your care going forward as clear as possible.