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COVID-19 can hit hard on people of any age, including people who are healthy and haven’t thought about what care they would want if their health fails. Talk about and document your wishes. Medical workers must make decisions quickly, so there will be little time to talk it through on the fly. It’s vital to make decisions in advance.
“You are never too young or too healthy to start these conversations,” says Harvard Medical School. “It involves identifying your goals and values, learning about life-sustaining interventions … and sharing with loved ones and your doctors your preferences. An advance directive is written documentation of these preferences.” Doctors will ask you about your care. But if you can’t speak, they will ask your loved ones.
Too many people die in a way they would not choose, says the Conversation Project, which aims to get people to talk about their wishes. Yet many people avoid talking about dying. “It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves,” says the group, which offers a form called “Being Prepared in the Time of COVID-19” to get the talk started.
One especially important step is to fill out an Advance Health Care Directive, says the Family Caregiver Alliance. That helps you and your caregivers. It names one person as an official decision maker if you’re too sick to speak for yourself. Planning ahead means thinking about what is important and talking about this with people you’re close to. Ask these questions:
“No one ever plans to be sick or disabled. Yet it's this kind of planning that can make all the difference in an emergency,” says the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Tips from the NIA:
There are two types of advance directives you will need to have:
Learn about the forms needed in different states. AARP has a free listing.
You can always hope for the best. And maybe you won’t need to have taken any of these steps. But it’s better to have a plan.
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