If your father doesn’t already have an Advance Directive, we strongly encourage you to make one - it’s not difficult, and you do not need a lawyer! Each state has its own version of this document. Click here to find the right one from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
In addition to naming the person who will make medical decisions, it’s super important to know exactly what your father would want to do if he can’t make those decisions herself.
Here are the questions we try to cover:
1. If your father had a major heart attack or stroke and his doctors determined he was not going to wake up, would he want to be kept on life support systems in the hospital to keep her alive? If so, for how long?
2. If your father had an advanced disease like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's and his heart or breathing stopped, would he want to be rushed to the emergency room? Would he want doctors to perform CPR to keep him alive?
3. If your father was permanently unconscious and unable to eat or drink on his own would he want to be put on a feeding tube? And if so, for how long?
4. Lastly, if your father’s doctors determined he were in his final weeks and in a lot of pain, would he want to be on heavy pain medications even if it might speed up his death?
As you have conversations with your father, it may be helpful to think of each option in your state’s Advance Directive document as fitting one of these 3 goals:
1. Do everything medically possible to stay alive: Treatments included would be CPR, Breathing Machines, and Feeding Tubes, even if your father would become fully dependent on these treatments for the rest of his life.
2. Care with comfort above everything else: When choosing comfort care, people tend to state that they don’t wish to have CPR or breathing machines used to keep them alive, and pain management medications may be used as needed.
3. Balance comfort with quality of life: People who try to balance comfort with quality of life make their own decisions between the first and second options. Some people may chose to not have CPR, but be ok with breathing machines and respirators while others may want a feeding tube option, but only for up to 2 weeks.
Obviously we hope none of these situations will arise, but at some point it’s likely that someone will have to make medical decisions for your father and having these discussions is the only way you and your family can make the choices your father would want. Once your father has his Advance Directive, keep it in a special place that you can easily get to, and upload it into the Kinto Documents Tool so it’s always available to you and your family.