In urgent, stressful situations, it’s not uncommon for information to get missed or lost in translation. Often the patient is in an anxious and unwell condition and they are unable to articulate exactly what they’re feeling.
While no one wants to think about these types of situations, end-of-life planning is important, especially for patients who have had a previous medical episode, stroke, dementia or communication issues.
Everyone should consider advanced care planning, even if they’re not living with an existing medical or health condition. Having a plan in place provides a sense of control and the ability to assure their wishes will be respected.
An Advanced Care Directive is a legally binding document that empowers you to make clear arrangements for your future health care and end-of-life matters.
It contains information about situations where you may or may not want medical treatment, including a patient’s care preferences and what actions to take when they’re unable to communicate.
A directive also includes details of appointment, where you can name someone else to make decisions about your medical care.
This document only applies to health care decisions and won’t affect any financial matters.
MedicAlert® can store Advanced Care Directive information in a member’s electronic health record and in a medical situation, a medical professional can call MedicAlert’s 24/7 Emergency Response Service to source advice and make sure your wishes are honoured.
Pamela, 71 says having an Advanced Care Directive helped immensely when her husband of 50 years was no longer able to communicate due to stage 4 brain cancer.
“When my husband could no longer make clear decisions due to his brain tumour changing his personality and taking away his ability to communicate, I had to become the person to make all the decisions,” she says.
“This was so daunting and difficult, but it was a good thing we had already discussed his wishes and organised his Advanced Care Directive.
“There is so much paperwork to deal with when you are dealing with serious illness and this has helped so much and removed some of the stress.
“He was always the one to take care of all the bills and paperwork, and now I have to sign on his behalf.
“Without an Advanced Care Directive, I don’t feel that our choices would be honoured. I'm glad we had time to think ahead.”
Having a directive that can speak for you when you can’t is empowering. It takes the burden off loved ones and those having to carry the responsibility of that decision on their shoulders for the rest of their life.
A directive will not affect the care received while the patient can still communicate and the instructions in the document will only be used when they’re no longer able to voice their decisions.
“We offer such a simple and reliable service that provides you with complete protection and gives you control over your health.” Says Tom Moore, CEO Australia Medic Alert Foundation.
“It is so important for those who are elderly or thinking about their end-of-life planning to make their own decisions and a MedicAlert® medical ID can help ensure your Advanced Care Directive is adhered to when the need arises. For less than $1 a day you can be covered by MedicAlert® membership and have your wishes granted, and have peace of mind knowing you’re taking control of your health.”
A MedicAlert® membership, paired with an Advanced Care Directive, enables your wishes to be followed, as well as keeping personal and health information securely in one place, where a doctor, surgeon, specialist, nurse, ambulance officer or other health professionals can improve your treatment by having access to not just your information, but also what you want to happen in an emergency.
The Emergency Response Service is available day or night, 24/7, supporting emergency personnel and other health professionals with quick, concise answers.
For more information visit medicalert.org.au or call 1800 88 22 22.
Sources: UNSW Sydney Medicine