According to the Pew Research Center study, More Americans Discussing - and Planning - End-of-Life Treatment, 42 percent of Americans have had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or coma in the last five years. For a majority of these people and 23 percent of the general public, the issue of withholding life-sustaining treatment came up.
As a result of the advent of modern technology, doctors and hospitals are saving more lives than ever. However, in many cases, people can only be kept alive with assistance, in a way which seriously diminishes their quality of life.
April 16 has been proclaimed National Healthcare Decisions Day to help Americans understand that making future healthcare decisions includes more than simply thinking about their care. It includes expressing preferences on a legal document and identifying a person to communicate those choices on their behalf in the event they can no longer communicate for themselves.
To be prepared, an individual can discuss options with a physician, make their final decisions known to family members, and legally document their preferences for future treatments in an Advance Care Directive. A completed Advance Care Directive should remain easily accessible. Thus, each person will be ensured that treatment is carried out the way he or she would have wanted and gives a loved one and physician peace of mind.
To access an Advance Healthcare Directive, go to delawarehospice.org/get-help-now/resources/end-of-life-planning to download the form, or pick up a form at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford.
To contact a Delaware Hospice representative to speak to a church or civic group about the importance of documenting healthcare wishes or for information about this important topic, contact Heather Steuer, 302-299-3152.