In a November Washington Post article entitled, “Doctors are torturing dementia patients at the end of their life. And it’s totally unnecessary,” board-certified emergency room doctor, Geoffrey Hosta, explains the pain and suffering dementia patients endure when families insist on medical intervention to prolong life.
In many cases, the care the patient receives is invasive and unnecessary, leaving their final moments with family to be filled with fear and agony.
How can you prevent pain and suffering at the end of your life? And, how can you ensure those difficult decisions don’t fall on the shoulders of your loved ones? Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC Partner Matt Potempa explains the benefits an advanced directive can have for patients and their families.
What is an advanced directive?
An advanced directive is a legal document that allows you to explicitly detail your end-of-life care before you can no longer make the decision yourself.
- Living Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
Under the Right to Natural Death Act, a living will allows the signee to decline any life-prolonging treatments including medications, surgeries, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, CPR, nourishment and hydration, and radiation.
It is important to note that in Tennessee, a living will is revocable at any time by the declarant regardless of mental state if intentions are effectively communicated to the physician by written revocation that is dated and signed, or if an oral statement is made by the patient to physician.
To be legally recognized, a living will must be completed by a competent adult and signed in the presence of two witnesses who are not related to the declarant. The living will must also be substantially written in the form of §32-11-105.
Durable Power Of Attorney
Durable power of attorney is a legal tool that grants a named individual the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions on behalf of the person initiating the agreement.
Also known as the “durable power of attorney for health care,” the document allows the designated individual, typically a relative, to communicate with doctors and hospital staff should the patient be unable to consent or decline treatment.
In order for a durable power of attorney to be recognized, the document must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary and specifically authorize health care decisions.
Don’t let it happen to you.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, and the 6th leading cause of death in Tennessee. In 2015, 3,122 individuals died due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Don’t let your final moments with your loved ones be filled with fear and pain. In the case where you or a loved one is in need of end-of-life-care, don’t wait till it’s too late. Reach out to experienced estate planning lawyers to ensure your final moments are ones of comfort.