What Are Your Wishes?

How many candles were on your last birthday cake? Whether 25 or too many to count, we never know how many more birthdays we get to celebrate.

Lives can change in an instant. Even the healthiest of all of us could face death tomorrow. Nobody wants to think about the worst. We’d live in fear if we dwelled on all the things that could happen.

So instead, we can plan ahead. If you were faced with the decision of whether or not to use life support, would you?

It’s a decision based on personal values and requires serious consideration. Deciding for yourself is hard enough. Why would you want to put that decision, that responsibility, in someone else’s hands?

Planning Ahead
Okay, enough with the scary thoughts! Let’s get down to business. Advance directives, including living wills, do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders and more, allow you to make decisions regarding your treatment before you can’t. These legal documents speak for you when you aren’t able. Learn more in this Mayo Clinic article explaining different advance directives for medical care.

All adults should plan ahead by completing advance directives. This includes anyone 18 or older, not just older adults. Unforeseen end-of-life situations happen to 25-year-olds and 65-year-olds alike.

Birthday Wishes
“Do the paperwork once, and then review it every year on your birthday,” suggests John Rieth of Altru’s Pastoral Services. Birthdays are a perfect time to think about life and reflect on your wishes—wishes of all kinds. Or, pick a date (April 16th, National Healthcare Decision Day, perhaps?) and review yearly.

Everybody knows birthday wishes only come true if you keep them a secret, right? Advance directives work the opposite. “One can fill out an advance directive, but the important part of this is not the paper, but the conversation that occurs,” says Dr. Laura Lizakowski, palliative care. “Some people never discuss their wishes with their families, and when something devastating happens to them, the families have no idea what their loved one wants.”

She continues, “It really should be discussed with their physicians as well, so that they know their wishes, and so that education can be provided regarding some of the potential choices.”

Getting Started
Practice your patient rights and responsibilities by completing an advance directive for your health care preferences. Altru has the resources to help you express your wishes. Advance directive forms are available from the following Altru departments: social work, pastoral services, medical records or Altru Home Services. We even have public notaries on staff that can make documents official.

Tap into Altru’s resources to plan your end-of-life care. Be your own wish maker.

Why is completing advance directives important to you and your family?