With Baby Boomer’s entering retirement, there has been a push in the media to encourage people over 60 to create their own Advance Directive.
The New York Times published an interesting story about a service that helps people navigate what can be a confusing process. Good Medicine Consult & Advocacy acts as a professional conduit between patients and doctors when drafting Advance Directives. The service was founded by Dr. Jennifer Brokaw, a former ER physician who witnessed firsthand many doctors not honoring their patients’ wishes during crisis situations.
In countless cases, “the emergency room doctor has to advocate for patients,” Dr. Brokaw said. “I wanted to head things off at the pass by communicating both with patients and physicians.”
Even with the current awareness surrounding the issue, she believes the communication gap between patients and doctors remains “huge.” While a quarter of Americans currently have Advance Directives only 12 percent receive a doctor’s input when writing the document. Most are still done alone or with a lawyer.
“Your lawyer shouldn’t be writing a medical contract any more than you’d want your doctor to write a legal contract,” Dr. Brokaw said.
Multiple conversations are important to write an effective plan. “It isn’t just one conversation. It’s at least three conversations.”
If you are writing your own Advance Directive, here are a few suggestions:
- Involve your family so they share your goals
- Appoint a durable power of attorney
- Specify who makes decisions if you are incapacitated
- Specify what actions should and shouldn’t be taken to extend life
- Have multiple discussions before you reach a critical period
- Focus on what you want your end of life experience to be
- Review your Advance Directive at least every 10 years