Do you ever have a phase in your life when death seems all around you? Granted, these phases are occurring more frequently as I age, but this has just been one of those months where death is visiting too many in my circle. In the past month, four people I know have been diagnosed with masses on the liver, and today I spent time with a friend dying of liver and gall bladder cancer.
Times like this remind me how grateful I am that hepatitis C did not kill me. Although most people with hepatitis C are likely to die from something other than hepatitis C, this virus increases the risk of premature death from other diseases. Not wanting to die prematurely, I do what I can to stay healthy, so this blog post will be short so I can get to sleep early tonight.
I have only one thing I want to say: Be sure your advance directives are order.
Health care advance directives provide information about your preferences in the event that you are unable to make decisions about your medical care. An advance directive is a gift you give to others because you are making your wishes known rather than asking others to guess what your decisions might have been.
A health care advance directive consists of two documents: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care (DPAHC). The living will is a written document describing specific health care interventions that you may or may not want under certain medical conditions. The DPAHC is a document attesting that you have appointed someone you trust to act on your behalf in order to make your wishes known in the event that you may be unable to do so yourself. That person is known as your agent or proxy.
Here are some resources to learn more about advance directives:
- Aging with Dignity – (888) 5-WISHES (888) 594-7437) For a small fee, you can purchase a popular form called “Five Wishes,” or download it for free.
- American Bar Association – (800) 285-2221 Very good information and tools about advance directives
- Funeral Consumers Alliance – This non-profit organization covers many aspects of death and dying. Click on the Web Resources link to find information in the U.S. and Canada
- U.S. Living Will Registry – (800) LIV-WILL (800)548-9455 This website is totally devoted to the issue of advance directives
Please don’t delay these decisions. Death is traumatic enough, and advance directives bring dignity and peace to the process.