May 21, 2024

Healt Hid

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Check Your Health- Advance Directives Ensure Loved Ones Know Medical Wishes

3 min read

Medical emergencies and unexpected health crises can occur at any age. Advance care planning encourages people to consider potential future scenarios and plan accordingly, even if they’re young and healthy. Good emergency preparedness includes completing an advance directive to plan for future medical care and intervention.

April 16th marked National Healthcare Decision Day, a reminder of the importance of creating an advanced directive. This legal document designates a healthcare agent empowered to make medical decisions on behalf of an individual if they become unable to do so themselves. It also outlines specific medical interventions desired in instances when a person is physically or mentally unable to communicate for themselves.

By engaging in advance care planning early on, you can be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances and ensure your wishes are known and respected by healthcare providers and family members.

Advance directives ease stress for both you and your loved ones by clarifying your medical preferences. They should be updated annually or after significant life events like illness diagnosis, divorce, or health decline.

The unpredictability of life, with accidents and illnesses that occur regardless of age, emphasizes the importance of being prepared. Anyone over the age of 18 should have an advance directive, not just older adults.

“As an emergency department physician, I would love to see these conversations take place in routine healthcare settings, rather than amidst a crisis,” said Dr. Kenny Bramwell, an emergency physician and senior medical director at Select Health. “It’s dramatically more effective to address these matters beforehand with a trusted healthcare provider to offer guidance.”

It’s recommended that you start having those important conversations with your loved ones ahead of time. This proactive approach ensures that family members aren’t burdened with difficult medical decisions in the future.

Discussing this topic regularly allows you to update your preferences, address any changes in your health status, and ensure your healthcare wishes are known.

Talk about advance directives at your annual wellness check-up

Talking with your provider about your advance directive promotes proactive decision-making and empowers you to maintain control over your future medical care.

“Talking openly with your primary care provider and being actively involved in your healthcare decisions is crucial,” emphasized Dr. Bramwell. “Including advance directives in these discussions helps people take charge of their future healthcare, ensuring peace of mind and thorough planning. With a more complicated medical history and with increasing age, these conversations and decisions become even more relevant.”

Advance directives can be sent to your healthcare provider via mail, email, fax or placed in your electronic medical records, so your doctors or medical providers are informed of your wishes.

Select Health has care managers that can help with advance directives

Select Health care managers can check to see if you have an advance directive on file and assist you in navigating complex healthcare decisions, offering support and resources to help you make informed choices about your medical care.

For more information about advance directives and copies of the forms for the state where you live, visit the advance directives page on intermountainhealth.org or selecthealth.org.

To review additional help with advance care planning, including tips on starting conversations about advance directives and choosing a healthcare agent, visit TheConversationProject.org. This resource provides useful tools and information to guide discussions about your future medical care, ensuring your preferences are understood and honored.

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