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May 6, 2024

The Importance of Stating Your Medical Wishes in Advance

As an Elder Law Attorney focusing on dementia, I have included specific questions in the Advance Health Care Directive to aid the designated decision-maker in understanding what their loved one desires medically. Here’s a critical question I pose:

“If you were to develop a condition like advanced Alzheimer’s Disease or a severe stroke, resulting in an inability to communicate or enjoy life, would you want life support treatments that could prolong your life, such as antibiotics for pneumonia or tube feedings for swallowing difficulties?”

Options: ___ Yes ___ No ___ Unsure ___ Leave it up to my doctor and loved ones

One of my clients had selected “No.” When they were hospitalized with pneumonia and traditional antibiotics failed, the medical team considered more invasive treatments like intubation and IV antibiotics. Despite being only 77 years old and having no quality of life, as evidenced by their lack of interaction and disinterest even in family visits, we knew they wouldn’t have wanted aggressive measures. This documented answer allowed us to bring in hospice care, which focused on comfort rather than prolongation of life. They remained in the hospital but were moved from ICU to a more accessible area for family visits, showing signs of relief. Ultimately, they passed away from pneumonia, comforted by the knowledge that we honored their wishes against heroic measures.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having your healthcare preferences documented. It’s crucial for your family to know your desires to avoid the difficulty of making guesses in trying times. If you wish to clearly articulate your medical preferences, please give me a call.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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