SunPorch Offers Information About Advanced Directives for Healthcare

SunPorch Offers Information About Advanced Directives for Healthcare

April 2019 • Contact: Debbie Allen, 620-227-7512 •

In her role as marketing and community liaison at SunPorch of Dodge City, Debbie Allen knows the importance of advanced directives for healthcare. Therefore, she wants to take advantage of Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16, which is a local and national effort to spread the word.

“Since I have started helping with admissions here at SunPorch, I am often reminded of the need for public knowledge about advanced directives for healthcare,” Allen said. “So, in observance of this special day in April, SunPorch will offer free advanced-directive forms here at the long-term-care residence.”

These forms are for Do Not Resuscitate orders; durable powers of attorney; and living wills.

In addition, a Kansas Legal Services representative will be available on April 16 at SunPorch, 501 W. Beeson.

“Questions often come into play when someone is already hospitalized, perhaps in a coma, or otherwise incapacitated physically or mentally,” Allen said. “This is when the family asks ‘what should we do’? A living will helps answer those questions.

“It provides the opportunity to express yourself in writing when you can’t express yourself verbally, taking the burden off your family,” she explained. “A living will can be a gift to those faced with difficult decisions.”

It is extremely important for family members to talk with one another before tragedy strikes, Allen emphasized.

“If we don’t have these conversations, there can be devastating results,” she said. “One sibling might want to do everything possible, while another doesn’t think prolonging the inevitable is the right thing to do.

“With advanced directives, family members know their loved one’s wishes, which takes the guilt and anxiety off the family.”

Allen noted that her position at SunPorch has opened her eyes about medical issues that may require feeding tubes, intubation and other measures that are extraordinarily personal.
“After discussing these possibilities with our Director of Nursing Denice Cragg, I discovered most people don’t want to prolong their lives in these ways,” Allen said. “But it is certainly an individual’s decision.

“This is why you designate someone you trust with your medical power of attorney. You can spell out what you want and what you don’t want.”

Medical powers of attorney (POA) apply when patients are receiving or needing medical care but cannot speak for themselves. “If decisions must be made, the person you choose to act on your behalf will be consulted,” Allen explained.

A living will is not the same as a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate order. For example, a DNR applies at the “end stage of a disease and you don’t want to be revived if you go into cardiac arrest.

“Some thoughts to consider are: what quality of life will your loved one have after being resuscitated; and would it be the kind of life this person would want?”

A power of attorney is valid when it is signed. However, if it is sitting in a desk drawer and no one knows about it, it is of no use, Allen said. It needs to be accessible.

“It is highly recommended that copies be delivered to the person you have chosen to act for you, your doctors’ offices and the medical facility you use,” she advised. “It is not expensive to have an attorney handle it and it is worth the peace of mind.”

Another option is making an appointment with Kansas Legal Services at a senior center. Services are free to those 65 and older.

 “We hope people note that a living will makes your wishes known via a written statement, but by itself does not appoint a person to act on your behalf and make those decisions,” Allen noted. “A healthcare POA does do this. Like a living will, a healthcare POA does not distribute your property after death.”


Definitions:

• A living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment when they are no longer able to express informed consent.

• A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document through which you name someone to have the authority to make decisions and take actions on your behalf. This person is called your agent or attorney-in-fact. The person you name does not have to be an attorney.

• Durable power of attorney, DPOA, is a legal document providing that this power extends to your agent in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself. A DPOA generally remains in effect until the principal revokes the power or dies. It also can be terminated if a court finds the document invalid or revokes the agent’s authority, or if the principal gets divorced and the spouse was the agent.

• Financial power of attorney is a way to allow someone else to manage your finances if you are unable to make decisions. The power is granted in a document, and is not only useful for you; it can help your family in times of crisis. It grants someone legal authority to act on your behalf for financial issues.

• Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) is a legal order to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) in case the heart stops or breathing stops.


Sarah Campbell