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What’s Your Plan?

Planning for the last chapter of life is a subject many of us would rather avoid. However, most people will become seriously ill or incapacitated at the end of their lives, and the default treatment often leads to intubation, catheterization, feeding tubes, and other invasive procedures. Some patients want every available technology; others do not. What’s important is that you decide for yourself what you want, speak with your loved ones, and write your wishes down.

Advance Directives

Instructions for how you want to be treated during the final phase of life are known as “advance directives.” Writing your instructions down and signing them in the presence of two qualified witnesses can make them legal documents.

A number of advance directive forms are available. You may download one or more of the forms below and use them to communicate your instructions.

Medical Power of Attorney

This document allows you to designate a family or friend to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make or communicate your wishes yourself. This person will become your legal healthcare agent. Appoint a good advocate who understands your values and beliefs and can also talk with doctors and other family members.

Witnesses to your Medical Power of Attorney must be a minimum of 18 years of age. Your designated healthcare agent, healthcare provider or provider’s employee, or an employee of any facility in which you live may not witness this document. At least one of the witnesses must not be related to you or be in a position to benefit financially from your death.

Living Will

Also called “Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates,” this is a legal document that guides health care professionals, family members and trusted friends in understanding the types of life-sustaining measures that you would or would not want. It goes into effect only when you have a terminal or irreversible condition.

Out of Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order

This document is completed and signed by a physician at your request to prevent using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for restarting your heart or breathing. It does not prevent medical interventions for comfort.

NOTE: When printing, print as a two-sided document; the signed form must include the instructions on the reverse. Once complete, post the document in your home, keep a copy with you, and give a copy to each healthcare provider. Emergency Medical Services cannot honor this order unless it is signed by both you and your physician.

Organizing Your Affairs

You can download a free document from Hospice Austin to help you organize your affairs. This is a tool designed to provide basic information to your family about your assets, liabilities and personal desires. Although it is not intended to replace or supersede a will or any other legal documents you may have executed, each family member, power of attorney, executor, trustee and guardian can use the document to help make discretionary decisions for you and your family.

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