For our fourth week in April honoring National Healthcare Decisions Day (April 16), we will complete this series by discussing two additional topics that can be added to an Advance Directive as addendums. Both are important and worth discussing. So, let’s get started.
POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. In some states it is called a MOLST (Medical Orders….). In California it is a POLST. This is a document that is signed by you and your physician. Most physicians will not be interested in signing this form with you until you are seriously ill enough that you might not be able to make medical decisions for yourself. Once completed, this form should be kept near the patient and be readily accessible to emergency medical personnel, assisted living facility staff and other caregivers. The form should follow a patient from home to emergency services, and to a hospital or other facility.
This document/form is unusual in that it is almost always bright pink (but it does not have to be). Here is a link to California’s POLST form. The purpose of this bright color is so that the form can be easily found in the home (generally on the refrigerator or on the back of the front door) by emergency personnel or others who need to know right away how to care for you in the event of an emergency.
Dementia Directive is a communication tool. It provides a way to share your views with loved ones, to let them know what you would want in case they have to make medical decisions on your behalf. Families often face making difficult decisions about their loved ones’ care. This directive can help them feel more sure that the decisions they are making are closer to what you, their loved one, would have wanted.
This directive is not yet considered a legal document. It is purely an opportunity for you to outline what your preferences are should you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to dementia or other brain-related disease.
Many of us have clear ideas about the kind of medical care we would want if we developed advanced dementia. This directive can lessen the chances that you might get more medical care – or less medical care – than you would have wanted if you develop dementia.
We have more information on this topic here on our website. There also are links to other organizations who have developed excellent Dementia Directive forms and are well worth perusing.
End of Life Choices California has trained, able and willing volunteers who are happy to walk through these forms with you, how they work, and how they might fit in your situation. A simple phone call (760-636-8009) can put you in touch with one of these wonderful people.
THANK YOU if you have taken the time to read our weekly blog posts about Advance Care Planning this month. We did it because we think this is such an important part of planning ahead, and ultimately to have the end of our lives be exactly how we would want them to be. For most people, the primary wish is for a peaceful, dignified ending. These Advance Directive forms and addendums are a strong beginning to that process.
Also, please know that we are completely volunteer-run and do not receive any funds from state or government agencies. We rely on the kindness, compassion and generosity of our reading public and those families we can help when their terminally-ill loved one is trying to achieve a peaceful death. Please open your hearts and send us a donation, no matter how small or large. It all helps tremendously.