The importance of planning ahead for end-of-life care (Healthy You)

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Some of the most important conversations in life, can also be the most difficult.

Emergency health situations happen, that’s why it’s crucial to have a plan in place.

To be prepared and give loved ones peace of mind, health officials stress the importance of filling out the legal document called an advance directive.

Nothing can prepare you for life-threatening scenarios brought on by an accident or a sudden severe illness, but you can prepare your family for what to do next.

“We want to make sure that what happens during those last months or days is what you want to happen,” URHCS Chronic Disease FNP Paula Parks said. “It’s only when the doctors have exhausted all treatment options and there’s nothing else they can do to try to keep you at your best health, this is your best health.”

It’s a hard conversation to have, but one that gives loved ones peace of mind.

An advance directive allows the patient to decide what kind of care they want to recieve at end of life.

“In doing that document, you say what you do want to happen or what you don’t want to happen when that time comes,” Parks said. “Many times at that time of life you’re not able to make those decisions verbally.”

Parks sees it firsthand every day: the relief it brings once the document is signed and sealed.

“They are happy, they feel like a weight has been lifted because something that they want said, that they want their family to know is down on paper,” Parks said.

United Regional Health Care System makes a hard discussion a little easier through programs to complete the advance directive.

Palliative Care RN Karen Trejo said you can fill it out in person, or through an app called MyChart.

“I think it’s so so important, we run into problems with people that don’t have advance directives or a medical power of attorney,” Trejo said.

A medical power of attorney is the person one chooses to make decisions if they’re unable to.
The advance directive document consists of end of life care questions.

Including if one wants to be on a ventilator or not, and is a tube for nutrition something they would prefer if needed.

“It’s almost like a conveyor belt, I’m going to go through and choose ‘I want this and this, but I don’t want that or that’,” Parks said. “It can be very specific or very vague.”

These health officials said it’s best for everyone to get it done and get it done now.

“It’s agonizing for family to not have that laid out for them,” Parks said.

“Do it now better than later, because later may be absolutely too late,” Trejo said.

End-of-life care documents can always be changed and updated.

To schedule an appointment call 940-764-8725 or to use MyChart to complete an advance directive, click here.

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