Does the Illness Matter With End of Life Care?

Nurse with an Elderly WomanEnd of life care is important – especially as you age or if you are diagnosed with a particular condition that will degenerate your capabilities over time. Even if you have been diagnosed for some time, it is never too late to start your end of life care plan and use Advanced Directives. These are legal documents that help ensure that you receive the care you want (or do not want) if you become incapacitated or cannot make decisions on your own.

One question that you may have, however, is if the illness you are suffering will impact your end of life care decisions. In some ways, the illness you suffer from could affect what decisions you make while doing end-of-life care planning, but in other ways, it will not. In order to fully understand how your illness will (or will not) affect your planning, you must first assess what you need.

Three Most Utilized Documents

When you start end of life care planning, you will begin with three essential documents:

  1. A Living Will – This goes over the care that you would like to receive if you cannot make medical decisions on your own. This can include life-prolonging procedures (if you want any life-prolonging procedures done), blood transfusion issues, religious faiths that will play a role in your care, and the name of the individual who will facilitate your medical wishes.
  2. Healthcare Surrogate – This form will designate an agent who will make decisions about your health issues if you cannot do so yourself. He or she can have limited authority, and you can decide what he or she is allowed to decide – and even split that authority between two individuals. You will need to name the surrogate while you are still competent. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with a condition that will lead to incompetency, now is the time to designate the surrogate.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney – This will outline the power that you give to another person when he or she acts on your behalf. You must authorize this person in writing, and do so before you are considered incompetent. The power of attorney is what gives someone the authority to handle your finances, as well as healthcare matters.

How an Illness Plays a Role

When you are diagnosed with an illness, it can play a role in your end of life care plan. If you have already established an end of life care plan, you may need to reassess and see if it reflects your new diagnosis. For example, if a person has cancer and he or she does not wish to be put on life-prolonging devices, then that individual may need to adjust the end of life care plan to reflect that – if it doesn’t state such already.

You may also want to change your healthcare agent or even your durable power of attorney – or assign one if you have not done so already after a diagnosis.

In most cases, you will need to consult with your current physician (the one treating your illness) to come up with a care plan or suggested care based on your illness. Your physician can advise you about life-prolonging procedures, your prognosis, etc.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney First

If you are establishing an end of life care plan, you will want to speak with an elder law attorney in New York first. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with all aspects of your end of life plan – including durable powers of attorney, healthcare agents, and even creating an estate plan. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625, or ask a question online to get started.

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