Your Health Seth Stratton | 7 years ago

If You Can't Speak for Yourself, Who Will?

If a medical emergency struck you or a loved one, what would you want others to know?

Each year, thousands of Americans end up in the hospital unable to speak to their doctors and loved about their preferences for medical treatment. Usually, this means others make decisions they might not agree with, which can lead to avoidable pain for the patient and unnecessary costs in care. Talking about our preferences for healthcare or for end of life care is not always easy. But it’s important to begin the conversation with your doctor, family or friends – this can avoid confusion later on and help them know what decisions might be right for you. One of the best ways to have this conversation is with advance directives. Advance directives are free legal documents that help you communicate your decisions about your preferred healthcare at any age. They include healthcare power of attorney and a living will. While many Americans know about these forms, only 26 percent have them filled out and processed.

Advance directives have many benefits and have been shown to:

To prepare a living will, a healthcare power of attorney or advance instruction, ask for the forms at your nearest healthcare location. The forms will have instructions for how to properly fill them out and process them. Such forms are available from Carolinas HealthCare System. A few important things to remember:
  • The documents should be signed in front of two witnesses – these cannot be hospital employees, family members or close relatives; the witnesses should sign in the spaces provided for them
  • The completed document should be notarized by a notary public
Hospital patient representatives at Carolinas HealthCare System can assist you with the notarization and with getting witnesses. Read more about advance directives or watch videos about them. Begin the conversation with your family and loved ones, at any age or stage of health.