Healthcare Decisions Day hopes to spread awareness about need for a Living Will

Healthcare Decisions Day hopes to spread awareness about need for a Living Will
Monday, April 16, 2012 - 9:37am

Today, Monday, April 16, is the fifth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. The purpose is to raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning.

Many of us go about our day without any consideration of what would happen if we were to fall too ill or hurt to decide how to move forward with medical treatment. Advanced car planning, or advanced directive, are legal documents that make sure your wishes are followed.

Louisiana law recognizes two types of advance directives: a Declaration Concerning Life-Sustaining Procedures (also known as a Living Will) and Power Of Attorney for Healthcare. You may also be familiar with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. It is important to understand the difference between a living will and a DNR order. A DNR declares your wishes not to be revived if you experience a cardiac arrest (your heart stops beating) or a respiratory arrest (you stop breathing). A living will covers all types of life-sustaining treatments and procedures if you develop a terminal and irreversible condition.

“Less than 25 percent of people have completed a Living Will and less than that actually talk about what it means,” explained Dr. Susan Nelson, Medical Director of Senior Services for the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. “National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to remind us all, regardless of our age or current health, of the importance of making these decisions known.”

While making healthcare decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated. Advance directives give you the ability to document the types of healthcare you do and do not want, and to name an “agent” to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

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Information in this article provided by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.

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