End of Life Care: The Importance of Maintaining an Open Dialogue

As loved ones get older and near the end of their lives, we want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible, so it’s a good idea to take care of all the decisions involved with this time far in advance. There are several legal documents that record your elderly family member’s desires regarding their healthcare and the management of their property and finances. Follow these tips to ensure that all the important items are covered.

Living Will

A living will allows your loved one to state their desired medical treatments, including instructions on whether they want to be kept on life support. A living will only comes into effect when a patient is no longer able to communicate or make decisions for themselves. This document can also be used to state other treatment preferences, including the use of tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain management.

Do-not-resuscitate (DNR)

A DNR is the official paperwork signed by a doctor that tells other health care providers not to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) when someone's heart or breathing has stopped. A physician writes a DNR based on a patient’s wishes or the instructions in their living will if they cannot communicate. 

Will

A will legally documents how property will be distributed after someone has died, and can be changed anytime during a person’s lifetime with the help of an attorney.

Durable Power of Attorney

It is common practice to name two individuals to speak for your loved one on matters of health care and finances. One person handles all medical decisions while the other is in charge of finances.

Living Trust

Like a will, a living trust contains guidelines for your property once you pass. It also provides instructions for the handling of your belongings should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions while still alive. One of the reasons people choose to complete a living trust is to avoid court fees. Unlike a will, this document does not require court intervention to distribute property.

Maintaining an open dialogue about end of life care will ease important decision-making during times of emergency. Completing the necessary legal paperwork associated with the end of a senior’s life will give them peace of mind knowing that their wishes will be carried out. If you take these steps now, you will avoid stress and maximize the time you have left with your family members. If you live in the Denver area and have any questions about end of life care, contact us today.

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